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St. Louis Came Out For Trayvon Martin, Another Rally at Noon Today

Last Sunday a couple  hundred people showed up at the St. Louis Justice Center to rally against the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 26, 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

St. Louisans gathered peacefully outside the Justice Center on Sunday July 14th
St. Louisans gathered peacefully outside the Justice Center on Sunday July 14th

Across the country today more demonstrations will be held at federal courthouses. “The St. Louis gathering will take place at 12 noon at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse (111 South 10th Street St. Louis, MO 63102).” (source)

I’m not going to say anything else, I just ask that commenters be respectful to others.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Split On Chief Dotson’s Proposed Use Of Drones By St. Louis Police

July 10, 2013 Crime 1 Comment

For much of the early voting last week the “good idea” crowd outnumbered the “too big brother” folks regarding the proposed use of drones by the St. Louis Police. See the introductory post for the poll here.

ABOVE: A $299 personal drone from Amazon
ABOVE: A $299 personal drone from Amazon

Q: How Do You Feel About Police Chief Dotson’s Vision For Using Drones?

  1. Too ‘Big Brother’ for me 38 [44.19%]
  2. For surveillance in public, it is a good idea 36 [41.86%]
  3. Sounds ok now, but it’s a slippery slope 10 [11.63%]
  4. Other: 2 [2.33%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 0 [0%]

I remain conflicted; while it is big brother I also think it might catch those who are up to no good, but I see it expanding bit by bit — the slippery slope.

The two “other” answers provided by readers were:

  1. I put on a better show when I know someone is looking!Add as a poll answer
  2. stupid idea, waste of money

— Steve Patterson


Pedestrian Killed By Motorist The Grove Two Years Today

Two years ago today the lives of two young men, John Foster Courtney & Justin  Kramarczyk, were forever altered. Foster was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by Kramarczyk as he walked across Manchester Rd. Foster died of his injuries, Kramarczyk is still awaiting trial.

Courtney was crossing Manchester Rd at this point when struck
Courtney was crossing Manchester Rd at this point when struck

July 5th, 2011:

A St. Louis man was charged today in a hit-and-run crash early Monday in the city’s Grove neighborhood.

Justin Kramarczyk, 24, of the 1600 block of Washington Avenue, was charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident. Police said additional charges may be pending in the case.

John Foster Courtney, 29, was struck at about 12:30 a.m. Monday as he crossed the street in the 4100 block of Manchester Avenue, in the Grove entertainment district. He died at a hospital at about 11:30 p.m. Monday. (stltoday)

September 7, 2011:

A St. Louis man accused in a fatal hit and run accident on the Fourth of July has been arraigned on more serious manslaughter charges, and ordered by the court to provide access to his cell phone which police confiscated as evidence in the case.

25 year old Justin Kramarczyk was originally charged with leaving the scene of an accident in the death of John Foster Courtney of south St. Louis. The St. Louis Grand Jury indicted Kramarczyk on the more serious felony of involuntary manslaughter last month.

He pleaded not guilty to the upgaded [sic] charge on Tuesday. (KSDK)

On July 6th I saved everything I could find online about both men. A couple of items from Kramarczyk’s public Facebook timeline, since removed, stood out to me as I read it again recently:

Eight days before
Eight days before
Three days before
Three days before

Alcohol is a huge problem in the gay community. Perhaps Courtney was too drunk to realize he shouldn’t cross the street? Perhaps Kramarczyk was too drunk to be driving that night? Or both…

I Couldn’t find anything about the charges against Kramarczyk after the September 2011 article  above so I asked Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, she replied:

“Our records show it is currently set for trial on August 5th. However, this does not mean there will actually be a trial on that date. The case is pretty old, so I would expect a disposition of some kind in the near future.”

Pretty old is right! I’m sure everyone would like to see closure. It’s important to remember these types of “accidents” happen around all areas with bars and busy streets, here’s a 2012 example:

A car that police suspect was involved in a fatal hit-and-run outside Broadway Oyster Bar downtown was found in Madison, Ill., police confirmed Saturday.


Amber Wood, 23, of the 2700 block of Accomac Street, was hit and killed while crossing the street about 1:50 a.m. Friday by a car speeding south in the 700 block of South Broadway near Gratiot Street, police said. (stltoday)

I just don’t know how to keep people from crossing streets mid-block.

— Steve Patterson


Poll: How Do You Feel About Police Chief Dotson’s Vision For Using Drones?

Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis Metropolitan Police
Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis Metropolitan Police

In February drones were the subject of the weekly poll and readers supported regulation of drones in Missouri. Last week we learned of a real local example:

In Chief Sam Dotson’s vision of modern policing, a drone would circle Busch Stadium to watch for terrorists, or silently pursue a criminal who thought the chase was over when the officer in the car behind him turned off its red lights and siren. (stltoday)

Dotson sent a letter to the FAA on March 25th indicating they’d like permission to operate an “Unmanned Aerial Observation Platform”. See the RFT for Dotson’s March letter and a letter of support from Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.

I personally like the idea of using drones in the above situations, allowing the police to do their jobs, while not endangering the public with a high-speed chase. But I know many of you are camera shy, you expect more privacy even in public spaces.

This non-hypothetical example seemed like a good enough reason to revisit the issues of drones again. The poll is in the right sidebar, results on Wednesday July 10th.

— Steve Patterson


Tragedy Can Happen Anywhere

The Cherokee Street Business Incubator,  March 2010 photo
The Cherokee Street Business Incubator, March 2010 photo

Yesterday a tragic even occurred on Cherokee Street:

Four people were shot to death after an apparent murder-suicide inside a Cherokee Street building Thursday afternoon.

Ambulances and police cars responded to the scene at 2715 Cherokee Street at 1:29 p.m. The Cherokee Place Business Incubator is housed at that location and is home to many individual businesses. (KMOX)

What we must all remember is there are unstable individuals everywhere who settle disputes with guns. This is not a reflection on the people who live or work in the area where these individuals snap. I have seen Cherokee Street blossom in the 23 years I’ve been in St. Louis. One of my first jobs upon arrival was working for an antique store east of Jefferson, almost nobody went west of Jefferson in 1990. This doesn’t change my positive view of Cherokee.

The suburbanites reading this may think this is another city shooting and that these types of things don’t happen in their community. Again, these things happen everywhere.

Less than a year ago:

The shootings happened Monday morning in the 700 block of Hawbrook Road, in Glendale, Missouri a wealthy suburb about 10 miles west of St. Louis.

Mitchell Murch II called police Monday to say his wife Catherine, 42, had killed the couple’s two children, then herself at the family residence. (KMOV)

Glendale is wealthy compared to much of St. Louis but it pales in comparison to Frontenac.  In 2003 my then-boss and I met a couple at their home, they were considering hiring us for a remodeling project . We didn’t get the job, disappointing because we had another project in the same subdivision.  Two years later came this news:

Three people are dead following a shooting and high speed pursuit in the west St. Louis County suburbs of Town & Country and Ladue. Police say a man, identified as John Alexander of Frontenac shot and killed his estranged wife Kelli Alexander, 35, also of Frontenac and the caregiver of their children 29 year old April Wheeler of St. Charles, who is a friend of the family. John Alexander shot his wife, who was in her car with their three children, outside a home in the 2600 block of Bopp Road shortly before 6 p.m. Friday night. Video: Police Press Conference Corporal Jeff Myer, spokesman for the Town & Country Police Department, says police received several calls about a possible shooting outside a home on Bopp Road, which is just south of Clayton Road in Town & Country. (KSDK)

I sat at their breakfast table just a couple of years earlier! Do his actions put at black eye on Bopp Rd? No, these things happen everywhere. Wealthy neighborhoods don’t have immunity from senseless tragedy.

The families of yesterday’s victims have my deepest sympathies.

— Steve Patterson




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