ST CHARLES, Mo. — Three teens are in custody after a Cracker Barrel employee was shot outside of the restaurant in St. Charles early Monday morning.
Just before 5:30 a.m., the St. Charles Police Department received a report of a shooting at the Cracker Barrel along Veteran’s Memorial Parkway.
Police said an employee, a 52-year-old man, was outside the restaurant to take out the trash and warm up his car before his shift ended. The 52-year-old said he noticed a gray Nissan pull up to his car in the parking lot.
One person got out of the car while two others remained inside, he told authorities. The employee yelled at them and one of them fired several shots, hitting the employee in the elbow and buttocks.
The employee was taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The three suspects drove away in the Nissan, police said. A short time later, the trio abandoned the car on eastbound Interstate 70 near Interstate 270 after catching a flat tire.
Moments later, the suspects stole a work truck at a trash dump in Earth City. The stolen truck was found crashed into a ditch nearby.
At 8:35 a.m., Maryland Heights officers spotted three boys and three girls who ran from police in the area. Three boys, ages 14, 15 and 16, were detained and taken to St. Louis County Juvenile Court.
Just before noon, police told 5 On Your Side the three girls were released because they don't believe they were involved in the shooting. Police also said the Nissan they were driving was stolen from Vinita Park Sunday night.
"People aren't just trying to steal cars anymore," said Lt. Tom Wilkison, St. Charles County Police Department. "When they're doing it they are more often times than not armed with guns. In this case today they were armed with a gun, and they're not afraid to shoot you."
Rose Acres Elementary, Holman Middle and Pattonville High students switched to virtual learning Monday due to the investigation in the area.
At this time, investigators have been unable to locate the weapon used in the shooting.
This is the third shooting in the last six days that happened at a local business.
So how do you keep yourself safe whether you’re an employee or a customer?
Safety experts say one of the most important things you can do is not try to intervene or take matters into your own hands because you or someone else could end up getting hurt or killed.
"Unless you've been in the military and a couple of tours, you're really not trained to return fire or if you're a police officer, you're trained to return fire, but nobody wants to return fire in a crowded restaurant," Global Intelligence Security Consultant Michael Barbieri said. "Because you may accidentally shoot somebody."
Barbieri said if a shooter comes in while you’re at work or at a business get down or go to a safe room without windows if you can and call 911.
"Make sure you get out of the line of fire because you never know where the bullets are going. A guy comes in and he didn't like his meal, goes out in his car, gets a gun, and comes back in to start shooting and randomly shooting people. So you want to stay down and get as low as you can, put something between you and the shooter," Barbieri said.
He said another tip is whenever police do show up make sure they can see your hands so they don't think you're the shooter.
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