Article from Dec. 14, 1995
ST. LOUIS • On Tuesday, two people in a group delivering gifts to a needy family in the 4000 block of McRee Avenue were shot; one was slightly injured. The incidents began about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, when five people arrived in the inner-city neighborhood with carloads of gifts. They were robbed before two of them were shot.
Shortly afterward, a neighborhood woman was abducted in her car, robbed, fondled, then let out. Sometime later, her car was found abandoned, and the two teen-agers were caught by two police officers.
Donald Hutson, 18, of the 4700 block of Thrush Avenue, and Bobby L. Bostic, 16, of the 4100 block of Blaine Avenue were charged Wednesday with 18 felony counts apiece. The charges include robbery, assault, sexual abuse and kidnapping.
Bostic was charged as an adult because he already had been certified as an adult on a previous unrelated drug charge.
"It was really a bad night, " said Leslie Harding, 40, one of five people delivering a sofa, a Christmas tree, household items and other donations to a needy family on McRee. The family - a man rearing three children - was one of the Post-Dispatch's 100 NEEDIEST CASES.
"We're upset that no one warned us that it was a bad neighborhood, " Harding said. "We had no clue. Later, the police said we were stupid."
Police gave this account:
Harding, two other women and two men were accosted by a pair of young gunmen as they were getting out of their vehicles on McRee, about 5:30 p.m. The gunmen demanded money.
One of the male victims, Chris A. Pezzimenti, 26, surrendered $500, and one of the gunmen shot him in the side. Pezzimenti's winter clothing slowed down the bullet, which broke the skin but didn't penetrate.
The other male victim, Leo J. Matthew, 21, surrendered his wallet, which contained no money, and he, too, was shot. "I felt it hit my chest, but it bounced off my jacket. It left a dent in my cigarette pack.
"Luckily, the other guy didn't shoot us because we later found out he had a .38, " Matthew said.
The robbers then fled.
About 6:15 p.m., a woman, 28, was accosted by two gunmen in the 2200 block of Thurman Avenue as she was placing packages in her car trunk.
The gunmen forced her into her car and drove off. They robbed her of $65 and threatened to kill her unless she could produce another $100. The woman was fondled, and after her abductors drove around the neighborhood for a time, she was released in the 4100 block of DeTonty Street.
About 10:30 p.m., police Officers Pat Clancy and Danny Walker spotted the carjacking victim's vehicle at North Grand Boulevard and Martin Luther King Drive and chased it to Lincoln and Prairie avenues, where the two occupants jumped out and ran. The suspects were caught after a brief chase on foot.
Betty Sievert, director of the 100 NEEDIEST CASES program, sponsored by the Post-Dispatch and the United Way, said donations are usually distributed by the agency that submitted the name of the family to the program, not by the donors.
The name of the family on McRee had been given by the Human Development Corporation. Harding said, "We talked with HDC about wanting to deliver the items ourselves because we wanted to meet the family.
"We went through a social worker, and everything was fine, but nobody mentioned how bad the neighborhood was."
Sgt. Anthony Russo advised other volunteers who may enter rough neighborhoods to be alert.
"Drive around and get a look at the area, " he said. "If there are suspicious-looking people, then call the police, and we'll escort you."