ST. LOUIS • A man was found shot to death Thursday afternoon about a block from the city's College Hill neighborhood, which city police had flooded with officers in recent weeks after dubbing it a hot spot of violent crime.
Garland Carter, 52, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds to his head and neck about 2:20 p.m. in a doorway to a building housing a liquor store and beauty salon in the 4300 block of Warne Avenue, police said. Officers went there after a report of gunshots and found Carter dead at the scene. Carter lived a few blocks away in the 4500 block of Adelaide Avenue.
Police had no suspects Friday.
Carter was found on Warne Avenue, which divides the Fairground and O'Fallon neighborhoods and is just a block from College Hill's neighborhood boundaries.
His death is the fourth homicide in the area this year. Police have attributed three others to a neighborhood feud over a woman. Police Chief Sam Dotson said it was too early to speculate what led to Thursday's shooting but said detectives are looking for any possible links to recent violence in the area.
St. Louis police had beefed up patrols around College Hill with about 80 officers beginning Feb. 7. Dotson pledged to maintain the hot spot policing strategy "until the violence stops." In the 10-day saturation of the neighborhood, officers arrested at least 40 people and recovered five guns. The saturation of officers ended Sunday.
Dotson said Friday police would not abandon the neighborhood now that the 80 officers who targeted College Hill have been reassigned.
This week, the city launched the second phase of the College Hill cleanup project by sending work crews into the neighborhood to board up vacant homes, clean up debris and fix streetlights and rescue stray animals.
Other neighborhoods, such as Walnut Park East, Walnut Park West and Dutchtown also have had two to three homicides this year, but Dotson said police saw the potential for violence to escalate in College Hill because of the feud.
Carter was heading to Andre's Package Liquor on Warne Avenue for cigarettes and a beer when he was shot, said his brother Prince Carter, 49, who lives in the College Hill neighborhood. He said he thinks his brother may have been targeted because he was friends with one of men murdered in College Hill last month.
Prince Carter has been outspoken about stopping violence in the neighborhood and is critical of the department's investigations of other recent killings. "I think they can do better," he said.
Prince Carter said his brother was not employed, struggled with drug addiction and spent much of his time taking care of their mother.
"I'm praying for whoever did it," he said. "I pray that God holds them accountable because the police department isn't doing it."
Garland Carter's son was shot and killed by police Jan. 8, 1996, during a foot chase through a public housing complex. Police had said Garland Carter Jr., 17, was armed; relatives said he wasn't. Prince Carter led public protests over the handling of that case. Officer Heriberto "Eddie" Sanchez, who shot and killed the teen, resigned over the shooting though a grand jury decided criminal charges against Sanchez were unwarranted.
Crime has been a central theme in the city's mayoral race leading up to the Democratic primary March 5. Candidate and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed has criticized Mayor Francis Slay for the city's crime problems. Some of Reed's supporters see the timing of the city's focus on College Hill as politically motivated.
Ward 21 Alderman Antonio French, a Reed supporter whose ward includes part of College Hill, said he supports the police surge in the neighborhood but sees the city's recent cleanup efforts as a publicity stunt by Slay to give attention to a long-neglected neighborhood and show his base that he is tough on crime.
"I don't think anybody in College Hill was fooled," French said. College Hill residents "have been asking for resources for years, and all of a sudden, this, a couple weeks before the election."
Slay has rejected such claims, saying the effort is necessary to combat crime and clean up a neighborhood plagued by violence.
"This is what hot spot policing will look like from here on out under local control," Slay's press secretary, Maggie Crane, said Friday. "This isn't some political thing."
Dotson says he never spoke to anyone in Slay's office before deploying resources to College Hill. Dotson says he wants to make "hot spot policing," a targeted strategy deployed by specialized police units, part of the department's routine crime-fighting plans.
"Anybody that wants to create a story of fiction around this can absolutely do it," Dotson said. "They're trying to politicize our efforts to curb violence."
The other killings in and near College Hill include the Jan. 25 fatal shooting of Brian Scott-Watson, 26, who was found in dead in a vacant lot in the 2000 block of East De Soto Avenue; Odie Patteron, 52, who was fatally shot Jan. 26 in the 2000 block of East Linton Avenue; and Odell Greenwood, 27, found shot to death in an alley behind the 4200 block of Obear Avenue.
A woman, Carmen Cross, 30, was found dead Sunday in the 2100 block of College Avenue in the College Hill neighborhood but her death has not been ruled a homicide and authorities are awaiting results of toxicology tests to determine how she died.
Police ask anyone with information about the recent killings to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.
View College Hill area shootings in a larger map