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St. Louis County Applebee's shooting suspect charged with murder

Police said Washington was eating inside the Applebee's, walked out of the restaurant, then came back with a gun. They said he shot three women, killing one

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A man was charged with murder, assault and armed criminal action Tuesday after a triple shooting at a northwest St. Louis County Applebee's left a woman dead and a 20-year-old firefighter fighting for her life in the hospital.

Courtney Washington, a 28-year-old St. Ann resident, was charged with the three crimes after he was taken into custody Tuesday.

"What I saw Monday night, having grown up near that restaurant, that scene was nothing less than horrifying," St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

The St. John Police Department said Washington was eating inside the Applebee's on St. Charles Rock Road and Brown Road. He got up, walked outside and then came back inside with a gun and shot two women who were sitting in a booth, killing one of them.

RELATED: Suspect in custody after 1 woman killed, 2 injured in shooting at St. Louis County Applebee's

He then walked over to another table where a firefighter with the Kinloch Fire Protection District was sitting and shot her, police said.

The firefighter, who was identified by her department as 20-year-old Arlydia Bufford, was rushed from the scene to the hospital in a police patrol car. As of early Tuesday morning, Bufford was in critical condition. 

RELATED: Kinloch firefighter among 3 women shot inside St. Louis County Applebee's

The third victim was shot in an arm or leg. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

Kinloch Fire Chief Kevin Stewart said Bufford was having dinner with her co-worker, a fire captain, after finishing up some training when the shooting occurred. Stewart said the fire captain was not injured in the shooting and was able to help the other victims until other first responders could arrive on the scene.

"It's been a bad dream," Stewart said, "a nightmare that we wish we could wake up from. But the reality is the senseless crime did occur, and it was senseless indeed."

Police said they have not been able to find a connection between the suspect and victims and they still do not know why he shot the women.

"We may never know," Bell said. "There were numerous people in the restaurant, but only women were shot. I can't say what was in his head, but we can look at the facts."

The department confirmed Tuesday morning that Washington had been found at an apartment in St. Ann and taken into custody. They have not released any information on a possible motive for the shooting.

Washington is being held on a $1 million, cash-only bond.