Police are investigating after a MetroLink carrying 20 passengers was damaged by gunfire Tuesday night.
St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the Fairview Heights MetroLink Station at 9200 St. Clair Avenue around 10:40 p.m.
A group of Cardinals ushers were among those heading home from work on the train Tuesday night when they heard a loud noise. Wendy Meise says, "A passenger from behind us hollered that there was gunfire, and everybody got down.”
Police found the train to have eight bullet holes on the right side with damage to the windows and metal siding. The MetroLink operator, a 35-year-old man, was not injured. None of the passengers were injured.
Passengers told police they heard six to 10 loud “pops” just east of the Washington Park Station and saw glass shattering.
Meise said another passenger found a bullet on the floor. Now these ushers are planning to form a carpool. She added, "When you're a moving target, split seconds count, and anybody could've gotten hit. We're all very lucky no one was hurt."
Captain Bruce Fleshren with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department says, “Clearly someone was firing rapidly. Were they trying to hit the train? I think it would be hard to say not to, but I don't think it was anybody on the train that was targeted, maybe the train for damage."
Just five hours earlier, just west of this incident near the Emerson Park stop, there was another scary situation for Metrolink passengers. Witness Kathy Daniel said, "There was a loud noise and I felt something sprinkle on my feet.”
Daniel took a photo of a rock that shattered the window of her moving train: “If that rock had been two windows back, it would have been me that would have been hit, because I was sitting right by the window. It does make me rethink riding the train."
Investigators and witnesses say security officers were not present in either of these incidents. Meise says, "Unfortunately that's not uncommon. They're on the trains randomly I know.”
The St. Clair County Sheriff is now working with Metrolink to increase the presence of officers on these trains.
When it comes to trains being targeted, Metro Spokesperson Patti Beck stated, "Unfortunately, Metro is not immune to the crime occurring in the communities we operate in." She added, "We are thankful no MetroLink passengers were injured in this incident."
Police do not have anyone in custody and the investigation continues. Anyone with information should contact the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department by calling 911.
Government leaders across the bi-state are eager to improve Metrolink safety. In St. Louis County, a public hearing on Metrolink security will be held Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., at the County Council conference room in Clayton.
Statement from MetroLink
The Metro Public Safety Department is assisting the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department to help them locate those responsible so they can be prosecuted. Unfortunately, Metro is not immune to the crime occurring in the communities we operate in. Targeting trains and other vehicles can have serious consequences, potentially injuring innocent people. We are thankful no MetroLink passengers were injured in this incident.