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Two dead, one wounded in downtown shooting near the Old Courthouse

Two dead, one wounded in downtown shooting near the Old Courthouse

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ST. LOUIS • Shots were fired from one vehicle into another during a nearly-two-mile rolling attack Monday that culminated at a busy downtown corner with two men killed in an SUV carrying drugs.

Police said no bystanders were hurt despite bullets flying near the Old Courthouse, at the heart of the downtown tourist area, about three blocks west of the Gateway Arch.

Witnesses included Cardinals fans preparing for the evening’s National League Division Series Game 3 at Busch Stadium, about three blocks away.

Police said two men in a red Oldsmobile Alero with no license plates began shooting at a red Dodge SUV containing five people near Gravois Avenue and Russell Boulevard.

The SUV finally stopped about 2:35 p.m. on Fourth Street at Market Street, in front of the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch, with one man dead and another dying.

The Alero escaped, speeding west on Market.

“This traveled a significant distance through the city,” explained Police Chief Sam Dotson, who said the attack clearly was drug-related.

“It really shows what happens when criminals have guns and are willing to use them,” he said.

Dotson said marijuana “packaged for sale” and what appeared to be heroin were found in the SUV, along with a gun.

It was not clear whether anyone in the SUV had returned fire at the Alero, or how many shots were fired altogether, or where.

Dotson said there were bullet holes on both sides of the SUV, and damage to its right front fender that suggested the vehicles had collided at some point.

One man died at the scene, in the back seat of the SUV. Another was taken to a hospital, where he died. A third was wounded in the ankle. Two other occupants of the vehicle were held, one of them caught by a bicycle officer while trying to flee.

Marijuana and heroin were found by a portable toilet near the intersection, where witnesses said one of the Dodge’s occupants threw them as he ran.

Dotson said the surviving SUV occupants “are not being completely cooperative.”

The names of the victims were not released.

A visibly shaken woman who declined to give her name told a reporter that she was on a Metro bus behind the SUV when several shots rang out.

She said it sounded like cannons, and people at first wondered whether the noise was related to the construction equipment near the Arch grounds.

Then she heard someone yell, “This is for real!” and passengers got down. She said she got off the bus and tried to help one of the victims.

Dotson pledged, “We’ll find these individuals.”

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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