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Woman shot, killed at community center by co-worker who was ‘angry’ about being sent home from work

The woman has been identified as Maria Lucas, 45, of Olivette

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — More information has been released into the deadly shooting at a St. Louis County community center.

The shooting happened at the Maryland Heights Community Center Monday around 8:10 p.m. One woman was killed, and the suspected gunman was injured after he fired his gun at an officer. That officer returned fire. The officer was not injured.

Maryland Heights Police Chief Carson held a press conference Tuesday morning.

The woman has been identified as Maria Lucas, 45, of Olivette. She was a city employee. Lucas was the on-duty supervisor at the community center at the time of the shooting. She had been employed with the city for 7 years. 

Michael Joseph Honkomp was a part-time employee of the city and was a janitor at the community center, police said.

“He was being sent home from work and reacted with ‘anger,’” Chief Carson said. He went up to Lucas and had a conversation with her and then pulled out a handgun.

Tuesday evening, prosecutors charged Honkomp with one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault on a special victim, one count of resisting arrest and three counts of armed criminal action.

Honkomp, a 30-year-old from Florissant, is in serious condition at a local hospital.

READ MORE: Man charged with murder in Maryland Heights Community Center shooting

Carson credited the "quick and fearless actions" of the police officer who went into the community center after a woman approached him in the parking lot. He said the officer did not hesitate to run into the building alone and that he was confronted by the gunman almost as soon as he walked through the front doors.

"The actions of our police officer were actually very heroic. He was notified that there had been a shooting, there was a man with a gun inside the community center. He immediately went inside the community center and confronted the gunman, and shots were exchanged," Carson said.

Carson said the officer who fired his weapon was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident. He also noted that the officer was relatively new and had been out of the academy for just over a year.

Police are reviewing body camera footage and security camera footage from the community center.

There were more than 150 people inside the community center when the shooting occurred.

Carson addressed the fact that some people and parents were upset about not knowing what was going on at the time

“Our absolute first priority was to protect the families and children that were inside the community center and do a sweep of the interior and make sure we didn’t have anyone else who was shot,” Carson said.

Carson said charges in the shooting may be filed sometime Tuesday.

The City of Maryland Heights has a policy that prevents people from carrying a gun into the workplace, so the suspect was violating a city police, Carson said.

Tuesday morning press conference held by Maryland Heights police

Maryland Heights Mayor Mike Moeller released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"On behalf of our residents, first responders and employees, today we as a community mourn the tragic loss of Maria Lucas, a valued and beloved employee at our community center. I want to express our sincere sympathies to Maria’s family and friends for their loss. We are all saddened and are struggling to deal with this difficult situation.

The city is making grief counseling services available to our employees beginning today, and we plan to also offer these services to any patrons of the community center that may need help through this difficult time. We will make the schedule of these services available to the public in the very near future.

I want to thank and commend the bravery of our first responders and community center staff that worked to protect patrons at the community center at the time this incident took place and reduce the possibility of further loss. Our police officer showed selfless bravery and put the public’s safety above his own during this chaotic situation. The staff quickly moved everyone inside the building out of harm’s way until the threat had passed. First responders provided emergency medical care without regard for their safety, and police from Maryland Heights and neighboring agencies came together to provide a safe perimeter and help reunite families with their loved ones trapped in the building as quickly as possible.  

We are learning more about those involved in this tragedy to determine what can be done to enhance the safety of community center visitors in the future. There are many questions to be answered, and we will share as much of the information with the public as we can in the near future.

We are planning a public event to honor the life of Maria Lucas in the near future. We also plan to reopen the community center soon and return it to its role as a place in the heart of our community for people to gather and to enjoy their healthy lifestyles. 

Maryland Heights is a great and proud community where violent crimes such as this are rare. I am confident that we will work through this difficult time together and emerge a stronger city and community."  

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