We are having a challenge here in District 3 to stop the “knock-out” groups and their criminal activity. I think it is important to give some history…. this phenomenon started around 2006 in the Carr Square area just north of downtown. After 4 or 5 such attacks, and really without any significant arrests, the attacks stopped. In late 2007, there were several similar attacks in the Dutchtown area. There were a couple of significant arrests and the activity stopped. This is not a gang initiation. It is simply the thrill of trying to punch someone hard enough so that they are knocked off of their feet. It is cowardly but the youth participating think they are showing their prowess of toughness by slugging unsuspecting people, usually older males walking alone. These groups are formed of boys and girls ranging in ages between 12 and 18.
Now, and for the last 15 months, we have been experiencing this “knock-out game” activity in different areas in District 3. Some of the activity has been around the far south end of TGSouth and it has stretched to the Shaw neighborhood on the north border of District 3. The most horrifying incident happened in District 1 in late spring near the area just south of Chippewa and Grand. As you recall an elderly gentleman was murdered after being punched and stomped after he hit the ground. The suspect in that case has been jailed and is waiting trial.
Simply increasing police presence on S. Grand or any particular neighborhood is not going to stop these attacks. This trend of sub-human behavior defies predictive analysis because the attacks happen in different places, on different days, and at different times. We have identified members of potentially three different groups who are engaging in this type of activity. In two different attacks in September we made arrests and the suspects are still being held on high bonds. There was an attack in September near the Botanical Gardens and we have identified the main culprit in that incident. He is on the run but we will catch him and I anticipate a high bond also for him. We have added District 3 bike patrols on S. Grand and Tower Grove. We consistently have officers walking foot beats on S. Grand; some of those hours are funded by the South Grand CID. Rachel Smith from the Circuit Attorney’s Office is actively working with the St. Louis Police Department to help in prosecution and information sharing.
The main way we will stop this series of attacks will be from intelligence gathering which is something we have been involved with for the past few months and we have made great head-way. Our goal is to identify young males and females who find this activity alluring. We have formed a special squad of some of our best investigators working primarily in the evening to pursue and arrest these individuals we think may be responsible for the latest attack.
We have a great relationship with Terry Houston, the principal from Roosevelt High School . He has the unfortunate burden of having quite a few of our suspects attending school at times (many have been suspended for fighting). He is constantly funneling us names of potential members of some of these groups.
Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any culprit involved in Friday night’s attack.
If you want to get more involved in what is happening in the community of District 3 please consider getting involved with your neighborhood association. At least two of our neighborhood associations are active in Citizens on Patrol. I communicate with all of these neighborhood groups and you are welcome to attend the meetings and hear more about what we are doing to curb criminal activity in this district. My Officers partner well with the entire neighborhood groups in District 3. If you are interested in finding out more about our neighborhoods check out WWW.SLPD3D.ORG.
Lastly…if you have information on anyone involved with this type of criminal activity please call me at 444-0125.
Captain Jerry Leyshock