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Victim kidnapped, robbery suspect killed in homicide that led to shooting of St. Louis officers

The I-Team is learning exclusive new details about the homicide that led officers to pursue a vehicle into Ferguson

ST. LOUIS — A robbery suspect was killed.

A robbery victim was shot.

At least five people including a security guard opened fire on alleged robbers.

And one of the robbery victims accidentally jumped into the robbery suspect’s getaway car, thinking she was jumping into a car that could help her escape.

The I-Team is learning exclusive details about the shooting early Wednesday morning outside the Royal Palace restaurant that happened almost exactly 12 hours before two St. Louis officers were shot and a suspect was killed.

Multiple police sources gave the following account of what witnesses and other evidence revealed about the incident:

At about 1 a.m. Wednesday, four people were standing near their parked car near the entrance of the Royal Palace in the 4200 block of Natural Bridge.

Three men walked up to them with guns drawn and announced a robbery, according to the sources.

The men then stole cellphones, cash, jewelry, and a pair of glasses from the victims.

While they were laying on the ground, the victims told police they started hearing numerous gunshots. One of the victims ran, and another victim ran to a security guard to tell him about the robbery.

Police believe at least four other people who were in the parking lot at the time started firing shots at the robbery suspects. The security guard also fired his weapon at the suspects.

One of the robbery victims was shot in the foot.

One of the robbery suspects, 31-year-old William Ownes, Jr., was killed. Police said they found the jewelry and glasses of one of the robbery victims inside his pocket after he died.

Meanwhile, one of the robbery victims ran to a white SUV that was parked near her car and jumped inside hoping to take cover and find help, but sources say it was the getaway car for the suspects. 

The suspects drove off the parking lot with the victim still inside, and released her about a mile away in the 4400 block of Evans Avenue, according to the sources.

About 12 hours later, around 1 p.m. Wednesday, two St. Louis officers in north St. Louis spotted that SUV and pursued it into Ferguson. There, two officers in the lead car were shot – one in the leg and the other in the abdomen.

A third St. Louis officer, who has been on the force for a year and a half, was in a separate car, returned fire, killing one of the suspects, 23-year-old Equan Hopson.

August Burns, 23, is facing charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and resisting arrest. Clyde Thomas, 35, is facing a charge of resisting arrest.

Credit: St. Louis County Police Department
August Burns and Clyde Thomas

The officer who was shot in the abdomen remains in critical condition. He is 25 years old with 3 ½ years on the force. The officer who was shot in the leg is 28 years old with 2 ½ years on the force.

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