By Kathleen Berger
St. Louis (KSDK) - A photo showing the dead and bullet-riddled body of the man accused of killing a Deputy U.S. Marshal is being forwarded by text and email to countless people. The picture was taken at a secured scene and wasn't supposed to be made public.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI were all there as the shooting is a joint investigation. The FBI insists the photo was taken before they arrived. St. Louis police have launched an internal investigation and US Marshals are cooperating in that investigation.
Due to the graphic nature of the photo, NewsChannel 5 will not show it; but as we learned, so many people have already seen it.
Nina Barnette knows the house on Osage. It's next to the park where she walks. She says everyone knows what happened to the man who fired at authorities, killing a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Suspect Carlos Boles was shot and killed as well.
Deputy U.S. Marshal John Perry, along with Deputy Marshal Theodor Abegg and an unnamed St. Louis police officer, were attempting to serve an arrest warrant to Boles on charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer and drug possession.
"I understand the police man's job, and I understand that it's dangerous and all of that, but come on. You don't have to go that route," said Barnette.
Barnette is disgusted that a member of law enforcement took a picture of Boles lying dead in a bloodied shirt. The photo spread like wildfire by text and email.
"My sister-in-law sent me that picture, someone sent it to her through text," said Tina Tate.
Tate got it last Wednesday. People who have received it say there's a caption: that the picture was taken by a cop. Some believe the underlying message is this is what happens to you if you shoot a cop.
One man who doesn't want to go on camera says the viral photo has even spread to Carlos Boles' mother and sisters.
"They're devastated. Because they haven't seen the body themselves, and they had to see it on the internet, and it's very devastating to them," the man sai.d
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has launched an internal investigation. But say the FBI and US Marshals Service were also there. The FBI says the picture wasn't taken by one of them.
"Once the FBI took control of the crime scene, no one was allowed inside that house without wearing protective gear. I'm talking about the white suit and the booties. And in the photo, you can see somebody was in there without wearing protective gear," said FBI spokesperson Rebecca Wu.
The FBI says it's working with St. Louis PD on this matter.
"Photos are only taken for evidence, not for personal use, and not to mention it was very disrespectful," said Wu.
And there's fear in the community of possible retaliation.
"'Okay, fine, I can do better. I can be a better gangster or I can be badder than he was. And that's not going to happen to me,'" said Barnette.
St. Louis police say if it discovers the photo was taken and circulated by one of its own, that person will be disciplined.
The St. Louis Police Department released the following statement about the picture:
"This photo is incredibly distasteful. While various agencies had access to the crime scene and we cannot be sure who may have taken this photo, our Department's policies are crystal clear-the only photos our personnel are to take at any crime scene are those that are for investigative purposes. Anything otherwise is completely inappropriate and unacceptable. While we cannot speak for the FBI or the U.S. Marshals, surely their policies are similar. Actions like this threaten the professionalism and integrity of ALL law enforcement. There is an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation to determine if a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department employee took the photo and if so, the offending employee will absolutely be disciplined by this Department."