ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis police officer killed over the weekend was among eight officers who have been shot during an extraordinarily violent year in the city.
Officer Tamarris L. Bohannon, 29, died Sunday, a day after he was shot in the head. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
A 43-year-old white man is in custody but has yet to be charged. Bohannon was Black, as was a second officer who was shot in the leg and is expected to survive. That officer’s name has not been released.
“This is a horrific reminder of the dangers our brave men and women willingly face every day to keep us safe,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a statement, calling Bohannon’s death “a terrible, senseless tragedy.”
This year has been especially dangerous in St. Louis, a city that has for many years ranked among the nation’s most deadly. The rate of killings in 2020 is on a near-record pace, and non-fatal shootings have spiked, too. The worst of the crime surge has happened since June. Things are so dire that the federal government in early August sent 50 agents to battle crime.
Six other officers have been shot in addition to Bohannon and his colleague, including four struck during a violent June 1 protest that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Two of those officers were shot in the leg, one in the foot and one in the arm.
An officer was shot by a suspect with a sawed-off shotgun on July 26. Another was shot by a teenager on Aug. 2.
Among those officers, only Bohannon died.
Thirty-three officers have been shot to death in the U.S. so far this year, a 6% decrease from the Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 period last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Another 32 officers died in traffic accidents, up 10% from last year. Twenty-one officers have died this year during other incidents and job-related illnesses, down 40% from last year.
A photo of a note from Bohannon’s family was posted on the department’s Twitter page after the announcement of his death.
“He is a hero to many, but most importantly to his loving wife and three incredible children,” read the note that referred to him as “Bo” and asked for “prayers and support in the days ahead.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis Police Officers Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda said Monday that Bohannon was a “difference-maker” to those who knew him.
“He sought to make a difference for all people in the community he served because they mattered. The unnecessary sacrifice of this dedicated public servant should be mourned by all because his life mattered,” Roorda said in a statement.
The two officers were among several who responded to a call around 6 p.m. Saturday in the South Grand neighborhood near Tower Grove Park. Homeowners Mimi and Steve Haag had dialed 911 to get help for a man who had been shot when the gunman walked into their home, they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I saw then he had a gun,” Steve Haag said. “He was very calm standing there with it in his hand and he just says to Mimi: ‘Ma’am you need to get off the phone.’” The Haags escaped unharmed through the back door.
Police Chief John Hayden said officers were searching for the reported shooting victim when the gunman shot Bohannon and his colleague.
The officers were “trying to do their job, that’s all they’re trying to do and they’re suffering under gunfire,” Hayden said.
The gunman remained barricaded as officers armed with rifles and a SWAT team assembled outside. Police closed surrounding streets and warned residents to stay inside. Police used a bullhorn to order the suspect out and fired tear gas into the house, but fired no gunshots, the department said.
The man was taken into custody around 5:30 a.m. Sunday. The other man who was reportedly shot was never found.
The chief said the “surge in violence” has been taxing.
“We’re trying to cope through a very trying summer, and it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult,” he said.
David Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this report.
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