- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - With St. Louis homicides increasing, a billboard company owner plans to take his anti-violence activism to new heights, at least for a time.

Daniel “Boone” Fuller, who owns more than 500 billboards in the region, expects to climb one of them Thursday - his 50th birthday - and remain there until the city goes seven days without a homicide.

The latest crime statistics suggest he might be there a while. Released Tuesday by the police department, they show there were 22 homicides in St. Louis last month, compared to just six in June of 2014.

As of the end of June, St. Louis has logged 92 killings, the vast majority them gun-related. That’s roughly 60 percent more than the 58 during the same period in 2014.

The last time St. Louis went at least a full week without a homicide was a nine-day stretch from late February through early March, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported.

“Every day I picked up the paper last month, there was a murder here, a murder there,” said Fuller, a third-generation bill poster and Minnesota native whose company, AdUnity Media, has billboards in some of St. Louis’ highest-crime areas. “We must stop the killing now, not later.”

Fuller said his protest largely was motivated by a contest - “Art For Goodness Sake” - that his company helped sponsor. The contest solicited drawings focusing on bolstering local goodwill and unity in the region rocked racially by last summer’s shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, by a white police officer in nearby Ferguson.

Six winning entries were chosen from roughly 350 entries in a contest accompanied by a GoFundMe.com effort to raise money to place billboards with socially conscious themes. Some of those winning slogans: “Spill paint, not blood. Put down the pistol” and “Stop and think. Stop the violence now.” Another finalist shows a sketch of a black girl next to a white boy, along with the caption, “Why can’t we be friends?”

Fuller said he’s confident he’ll be climbing back down the ladder after a week, his mission accomplished with seven homicide-free days. But he said he would abandon his efforts if put in danger by lightning in the area or if anyone fires upon him.

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