ST. LOUIS — A car taken in a recent carjacking crashed after a police pursuit Wednesday afternoon in the city's Downtown West neighborhood, police said.
In a Thursday update, police said they believe three people taken into custody after the crash may be responsible for a series of carjackings earlier this week, including a fatal shooting that investigators believe may have been an attempted carjacking.
St. Louis police Major Janice Bockstruck said a joint task force comprised of local and federal authorities was investigating a recent string of carjackings Wednesday when they spotted a white Nissan Altima that had been carjacked. A police source said it was wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Kay Johnson shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 4700 block of Compton Avenue.
Officers in unmarked vehicles watched as three people inside the Nissan got out and into a car that was taken in another carjacking on Dec. 13 in south St. Louis, Bockstruck said.
The second car was chased and eventually spiked on 14th Street, causing multiple tires to deflate. The car then fled, traveling north on North 20th Street and ran a red light at the intersection with Delmar Boulevard.
An SUV traveling eastbound on Delmar Boulevard hit the driver's side of the stolen car, causing it to roll on its side and knock down a traffic signal at the northeast corner of North 20th Street.
The stolen car's two passengers, one of whom had to be extracted from the car by firefighters, were arrested. They were later identified as being 16, 17, and 18-year-old teens.
Surveillance video obtained by 5 On Your Side shows a 17-year-old boy getting out of the driver's side of the stolen car after it crashed. Several unmarked police cars then pull up, and officers get out and draw their guns. Officers attempted to use a taser, which was unsuccessful due to the teen's coat. After a brief chase on foot, he was then taken into custody.
Police said it was unclear if any guns were inside the car. Bockstruck said that it would be towed to a lab for processing.
No police officers were injured.
On Thursday, police said investigators are seeking the transfer of the 16-year-old into Federal custody and Federal prosecution for his suspected involvement in a series of carjackings and attempted carjackings that occurred on Monday and Tuesday. The 17-year-old remains in the juvenile center.
The Circuit Attorney's Office charged 18-year-old, who was identified as Cameron Brown, for tampering with a motor vehicle in the first and second-degree and resisting arrest by pulling his arms away from officers, according to a charging document and probable cause statement.
He was one of three juveniles that were taken into custody after a tactical pursuit ended in a vehicle crash at 20th and Delmar on Wednesday afternoon. Brown is still being held at a local hospital with a pelvic injury.
"The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will continue working with Federal partners, both in this newly formed task force investigating these recent incidents, as well as in our normal day to day operations, in an effort to hold the most violent offenders to the highest degree of accountability afforded to us under the law," the department said.
Johnny Brown Jr. told 5 On Your Side that he was the victim in the SUV. He said he was driving home from the bank when this happened.
"I was on Delmar and 20th and the light was green. I was coming down the street and then boom. I didn’t know where they came from," Brown said.
He said he's just a little shaken up after the incident that was inches from seriously injuring or killing him.
"I think I'll be okay. I'll probably feel it tomorrow," Brown said.
Brown said he's glad police caught the suspects, but more needs to be done.
"They need to do something about everything, not just the police. Everybody needs to come and join together right now. We can't do it all alone we got to join together as a team," Brown said.
James Clark's phone at the Urban League continues to ring off the hook from parents at their wits end with troubled children.
"They cannot ensure that their child is not going to go out and do something that is against the law, so we believe that we’ve got to be active in neighborhoods. We got to make resources within walking distance of families right now. We are at a very pivotal point," Clark said.
Clark told 5 On Your Side the organization was preparing to work with more than 200 neighborhood churches to make them resource centers for families and be an arm’s length away for youth in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and East St. Louis.
"So that mother...if you're having a hard time with your son, you should be able to walk into the closest church and there should be a deacon there that will take the time to talk to your son. If you need utility assistance, you should be able to walk to the closest church and get the resources," he said.
These investigations are still active and ongoing, and police have no additional information to provide at this time.