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Man killed in Soulard this weekend possibly connected to car theft

A clerk at the gas station told 5 On Your Side the stolen car was not an employee’s car but belonged to someone in the area.

ST. LOUIS — The death of a man in Soulard Saturday marked the first homicide in St. Louis of the year.

According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, 24-year-old Jesse Lopez of St. Louis was found dead in the 3000 block of Gravois Avenue.

On Saturday, 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar told 5 On Your Side police informed him Lopez was trying to steal a car from the gas station when he was killed.

A clerk at the counter told us it was not an employee’s car but belonged to someone in the area.

We also heard from a few customers who were filling up at the gas station about the incident being the first on the books in St. Louis.

“As long as you have this access to [Interstate] 44 right here and this access to this main thoroughfare right here, you're getting stupidity from all ends of the city. If they find a spot that's easy access, it's an opportunity,” Richard Harris said.

Harris said in his experience as a former police officer, he had never seen such a slim law enforcement presence in his hometown.

“If they put more police on the street like they had at one time...I'm an ex-police officer...25 years...when I came back home I ain't never seen nothing like this,” he said.

Manfrecia McGee of East St. Louis said she her car was once stolen when visiting a friend in the downtown area.

"At the end of the day someone lost their life behind a crime -- but as long as the police are keeping up with their protection -- people will start to feel for safer in the city,” McGee said.

"The cameras are fine...more lighting...more police presence," Harris said.

Mardi Gras, one of the area’s largest celebratory seasons that attracts thousands of people, kicked off in Soulard Friday.

Bess McCoy with the Mardi Gras organization said the event ended hours before the shooting. She said she wants the public to know they will have city police support and hired security for all of their celebrations.

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