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Would-be robbers in Metro East pull gun on Vietnam vet, who fires back, killing 1

Would-be robbers in Metro East pull gun on Vietnam vet, who fires back, killing 1

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VENICE • An attempted armed robbery turned deadly Thursday when the would-be victim pulled a gun and fired, killing one of the robbers and injuring another, police said. 

Billy Dean Dickerson, 19, of St. Louis died Thursday morning when he and Perry A. Richardson, 23, tried to rob a 70-year-old man who was dropping off a friend at her house in the 200 block of Abbott Street in Venice, police said. The man is a Vietnam War veteran from St. Louis.  

The veteran and his friend were sitting in his car when Dickerson pulled his vehicle up next to the driver's side, police said. Richardson, who was sitting in the passenger seat, pulled out his gun and demanded money. 

The veteran pulled out his gun and fired, hitting Dickerson in the head and Richardson in the arm and chest. 

Police were called to the block for a report of shots fired and found Dickerson inside his car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Richardson was taken to St. Louis University Hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries Friday night.

On Friday, he was charged in Madison County with first-degree murder. Under Illinois law, someone committing a forcible felony, like the armed robbery, can be held legally accountable for a death that occurs while the felony is being committed, said Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons.

"(The veteran) is a citizen who was minding his own business — following the law, doing nothing wrong — and someone attempted to victimize him and his friend," Gibbons said. 

Authorities plan to hold Richardson without bail at Madison County Jail once he is released from the hospital. He faces up to 60 years in prison.

The Illinois State Police helped the Venice Police Department with the investigation. 

Richardson also goes by the name Deandre Richardson. 

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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