ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis firefighter is suspected of using credit cards from a crash victim who survived a crash near Forest Park Avenue and South Grand Boulevard earlier this year that left four dead, according to multiple sources familiar with the police investigation.
5 On Your Side is not naming the firefighter because he has not yet been charged with a crime. Police used body camera footage and surveillance footage obtained from several locations where the victim’s credit card was used in Chesterfield to identify the firefighter, according to the sources.
St. Louis Fire Department Capt. Leon Whitener told 5 On Your Side Friday, “The police conducted an investigation and there was no wrongdoing that was found and the firefighter is back to work.”
That conflicts with information St. Louis police Sgt. Charles Wall told 5 On Your Side Monday, which is that the investigation is still underway.
“As it relates to that crash at Forest Park and South Grand, we have opened an investigation into an alleged theft that occurred from that scene and a person of interest has been developed,” said Sgt. Charles Wall of the St. Louis Police Department. “No arrests have been made at this time.
“Investigators are still working to gather additional evidence and once their investigation is complete, they anticipate presenting the case to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney for any charges.”
Late Monday, St. Louis Fire Department Capt. David Neighbors said the police investigation is still ongoing.
The victim, 18-year-old Seven Robinson told 5 On Your Side he had $674 in cash in his wallet and about $200 in gift cards in his wallet because he had just celebrated a birthday and was saving up to buy himself a car.
He said the credit union is not requiring him to pay for the $120 in charges he did not make. He still doesn’t have his cash or gift cards, and he wants to know why the firefighter hasn’t been charged.
“It's hurtful,” Robinson said. “It wasn't just an accident, it was the deaths of youth.
“You took from people that could have been dead.”
Four killed in crash
Robinson said he and seven of his friends went out Feb. 25 to celebrate his 18th birthday. On his actual birthday, three days before, he was at the hospital as his girlfriend gave birth to his son.
"My friends were like, 'C'mon, let's go out to eat, let's do something,'" he said.
Now, he wears Corntrail McKinley's picture on a locket around his neck.
"It's still hard to believe it happened," he said.
The fatal crash happened at about 2 a.m. along South Grand Boulevard and Forest Park Avenue. When police arrived, they found a Tahoe upside-down on Forest Park Avenue. It had been struck while traveling along South Grand Boulevard and fell over a bridge there, landing on Forest Park Avenue below.
Four people died, including McKinley, 20, of St. Louis, Bryanna Johnson, 18, of Vanita Park, Anthony Robinson, 19, of Jennings and Richard Boyd, 19, of St. Louis.
Four people survived including the driver of the Tahoe, an 18-year-old man, and three passengers including Robinson, a 19-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman.
Police said traffic camera video showed a 2004 Chevrolet Impala driving south on South Grand. When the driver got to a red light at the intersection, the vehicle drove into the northbound lanes to go around the traffic, ran the light and slammed into a 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe that was heading west on Forest Park Avenue.
The driver of the Tahoe, an 18-year-old man, and three other passengers, Seven Robinson, a 19-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman, were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Cedric Dixon, 34, was charged with 17 crimes in connection with the crash. Initially, he left the scene, but turned himself in days later.
Wallet goes missing
Sources familiar with the investigation told 5 On Your Side the following:
Twelve days after the crash, Seven Robinson called police to say he thought a police officer took his wallet, which contained about $700 in cash because he had recently celebrated his birthday, and he never got it back.
Police took Robinson's description of the man and reviewed body camera footage of the crash response.
Police said a man matching that description asked Robinson where his wallet was, removed it from Robinson’s pocket, looked at it and handed Robinson’s identification to an officer.
Robinson said he has seen the body camera footage, too, and couldn’t believe a firefighter would be involved.
“That was crazy to me because it’s like you don’t really hear about firefighters doing stuff like that,” he said. “It was pretty interesting to see because it was like you could literally see him look in the wallet and kind of like close it and put it to the side of his jacket.
“He never gave me my ID back, he gave me like my permit and everything he did was like this is not his first time doing this, it was just like this is what he does.”
On March 12, police detectives went to the firehouse and two battalion chiefs identified the firefighter from still images taken from the police body camera footage.
Robinson’s mother told police there were three charges made to one of her son’s credit cards on Feb 26 – just two days after the accident including:
Waterway in Chesterfield for $86.79
GRWC Brite Worx in Chesterfield for $22
Alta convenience store in Chesterfield for $12
Detectives pulled surveillance footage from several of those places and saw a truck bearing a license plate that came back to the firefighter in question.
What the firefighter told police
On March 17, police took the firefighter into custody and questioned him about the wallet.
He told them he was working the scene of that accident and asking Robinson for his pedigree, saw his ID in the wallet and gave the ID to an officer on scene. He noticed the wallet was in disarray. He was then distracted by a woman asking for medical help on scene, so he put the wallet in his jacket.
When they were getting ready to leave, he remembered the wallet was still in his jacket, and asked an officer what they wanted to do with the wallet because Robinson was already at the hospital.
The firefighter told the detectives the officer told him to put it on the curb along with the rest of the victim’s property, which he did. When his shift ended, he got into his personal truck, took everything out of pockets put everything in his center console.
He told the officers on his way home to West St. Louis County, he stopped to get gas, grabbed what he thought was his wife’s credit card and paid at the pump. He also told detectives he entered the card and hit cancel twice so he didn’t have to enter a pin or zip code.
On March 13, he told officers his wife called him asking who Seven was because she found the credit card in his truck. He said he didn’t know and his wife said she threw it away.
On March 14, the firefighter told officers he told a supervisor he may have accidentally used the victim’s credit card and the captain told him not to do anything and he would run it up the chain of command.
That supervisor confirmed to police he was in process of writing a memo about the incident to send up the chain of command.
Detectives told the firefighter they would be applying for charges for stealing, and three counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and he was released from central patrol.