1 13y/o girl robs store, gets kicked out, comes back and shoots elderly owners
STLTODAY -- A 13-year-old girl suspected of shooting and critically wounding a couple in their 70s during a robbery at a beauty supply store surrendered to police on Wednesday, police say.
Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Chief Jeremy Ihler said the girl arrived at the St. Louis County Police Department’s North County precinct late Wednesday morning. Ihler said he was told that the girl’s family accompanied her to the station.
The shooting victims, a man and a woman, reside in O’Fallon, Mo. They were listed in critical condition at a hospital in St. Louis. Each had been shot once in the torso, said Detective Lt. Shawn Applegate. Their names were not released.
The couple are Korean and don’t speak much English but have worked for years at their daughter’s store, Kings Beauty Supply, police and friends said.
“They have had a lot of hardships in the past,” a family friend, Joo Lim, said. “They’re very sweet people who didn’t deserve this.”
The couple were shot after 4 p.m. Tuesday inside the store, at 10073 Lewis and Clark Boulevard in Bellefontaine Neighbors. But police believe the girl, who witnesses saw run from the store carrying a pistol, had been at the store twice earlier that day.
Applegate said early Wednesday that he had been told by the hospital that the woman had died overnight. Police have since corrected that to say both victims remain alive. Chief Ihler said he didn’t know how the miscommunication with the hospital staff happened.
In the first visit, the girl and another juvenile went to the business and stole some items, believed to be hair extensions, police said. The couple got the items back and kicked the girls out, warning them to stay away. They did not report the shoplifting to police.
Later, the girls returned to the store and the couple called police, reporting a disturbance.
Police responded, spotted the girls on an adjacent parking lot, and took one of the girls into custody on a previous juvenile warrant. The other girl was released on a formal warning for trespassing, with the couple’s approval, Applegate said.
Because the couple don’t speak English well, police spoke on the phone with the couple’s daughter, the store owner, who told them what her parents had reported. They didn’t want to press charges, police said.
Authorities believe that the girl who was released on a warning later returned to the store and shot the couple.
A witness saw her enter the store, “then less than a minute later came running out, swinging in her right hand a revolver as she ran,” Appelgate said. She was last seen in the area carrying the pistol and items believed taken from the store. She was running in the direction of the Castle Point neighborhood.
After the shootings Tuesday, multiple people called 911, including an employee of a neighboring business who went to check on the couple and discovered them wounded.
Police worked overnight to find her, and released a grainy photo of the girl taken from a surveillance video inside the store. They went to her last known address, where her mother lives, and no one answered. But a neighbor told police the mother had sent the daughter to live with the girl’s father for the summer, saying she was fed up with the girl’s behavior.
The girl turned herself in late Wednesday morning alongside three aunts and her father. She was in the custody of juvenile authorities.
Applegate said the same family had run the beauty supply store at the Lewis and Clark Boulevard location for at least a decade.
Cassandra Lampley, of north St. Louis County, has made it a point to visit once a week after the store was looted during turmoil in Ferguson and nearby areas.
“With the negativity surrounding Ferguson, I felt like different cultures should show friendliness to each other, you know?” Lampley said. “(The store owner) probably didn’t have black friends, so I made it my business to go that extra step and always called her my friend, and she did it back — ‘Hi, friend.’”
The family worked with Lampley on a cultural project for her master’s degree not too long ago, giving her information about Korean food, health and religion.
Lim, a family friend of the couple, started a GoFundMe page for the couple. She said the beauty supply store wouldn’t be open for a while, so the donations will help the family with medical bills and additional financial support.
Lim said her family was in the beauty supply business, too, and she goes to the same church as the injured couple.
There weren’t many details Lim could share about the condition of the couple, other than that the man was shot once and would require additional surgeries. The woman was conscious and alert, Lim said.
Applegate said that both were in critical condition but that the man’s injuries were worse from the beginning.
He said the gun used to shoot the couple had not been recovered.