- Associated Press - Saturday, September 6, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis police chief has promised a vigorous investigation into six apparently unrelated homicides that occurred over an 18-hour period and renewed his call for tougher gun crime penalties.

The killings began Thursday afternoon and continued Friday morning, with at least one of the victims an unintended target, Police Chief Sam Dotson said. Officers found shell casings from high-powered rifles on at least two of the scenes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1u9ruCG ) reported.

“These are the things that keep police chiefs up at night,” Dotson said. “The fact that they’re not connected reinforces my belief that high-powered rifles in a state with liberal gun laws puts the community at risk.”

The deaths pushed the city’s homicide total to 95 for the year, compared to 75 at this time last year.

Dotson has authorized homicide commanders to draw from specialized units but stressed that the crimes can’t be solved without community assistance.

The spate of killings began when at least two shooters opened fire with AK-47 and AR-15 rifles around 3 p.m. Thursday on the city’s north side. Police said the shooters apparently were targeting a specific car. Instead, innocent bystanders were struck.

Donnie White, 50, of Florissant, was killed after being shot in the chest. Another man was shot in the arm and was hospitalized in serious but stable condition. A third man was treated and released after being hurt by flying glass, police said. Officers found more than 50 shell casings at the scene.

Firefighters responding to a report of a car fire about 6:15 p.m. Thursday found a man dead in the driver’s seat with a gunshot wound to the head. His name has not been released.

A woman was shot around 7:45 p.m. Thursday. Police said she was driving along Interstate 70 when another car pulled up and someone began shooting. The woman, who was believed to be in her early 40s, crashed and was taken to a hospital, where she died. Police have not released her identity.

The body of a young man was found around 9:30 p.m. in a vacant lot. Witnesses saw a pickup truck stop in the street near the victim, then heard gunshots, police said.

Around 8 a.m. Friday, police said, the bodies of James Dent, 34, and his brother, Steven Dent, 25, were found along a street. Both had suffered fatal gunshot wounds, police said.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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