ST. LOUIS — An innocent woman was shot and injured at Courtesy Diner in an incident that started as a dine-and-dash.
St. Louis police said the shooting happened at around 12:15 Thursday morning at the diner on Hampton Avenue. The victim, a 63-year-old woman, was shot in the thigh and taken to the hospital. She was expected to survive.
Police said the incident started when a group of three men and a woman ran out on a bill. A diner employee ran after them, but they got away.
As the employee was returning to the diner, multiple shots were fired into the building. One of the bullets ricocheted and hit the victim in the thigh as she was walking to the restroom.
Customers were disappointed when they pulled up for a bite to eat only to learn about the shooting.
"It's sad because businesses are hurting already," customer Maddie Kovar said. "They need people to come back to them. They don't need people doing things to make people fearful. Please don't stop visiting your favorite restaurant because a crazy person comes and shoots off. That's one person in a million. These people need to work, make a living, we still need to eat, so come on down."
Dovydas Mascinskas, a traveling musician, stopped by the St. Louis staple for a bite to eat.
"What if you were sitting right there? You had to duck. It's dangerous," he said. "It shouldn't be like that. It's a place of breakfast where people come together."
Employees said security cameras may have caught the criminals in the act.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Resources for crime victims
If you have been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of resources.
Better Family Life is a nonprofit community development organization working to "stabilize inner-city neighborhoods." One aspect of its mission is a gun violence de-escalation program.
Life Outside of Violence "helps those harmed by stabbing, gunshot or assault receive the treatment, support and resources they need to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence."
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership with St. Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.
Cure Violence is an international organization that has recently launched in a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods. Violence interrupters are trained to deescalate violent situations within their own communities.