Crime, Law and Justice

St. Louis police shoot, kill 16-year-old they say had a gun

St. Louis police kill teen
Crime scene tape blows in the wind on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, near the scene in the 2800 block of North Florissant Avenue where St. Louis police say they shot and killed Black teenager Darryl Ross, 16, Sunday night in the city's Old North St. Louis neighborhood.
David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

St. Louis police officers fatally shot a 16-year-old who was allegedly reaching for a gun, police said Monday.

Darryl Ross was shot just after 11:30 p.m. Sunday at a gas station on the city's north side. Ross is Black. A police incident report said one of the officers involved in the shooting was Black, and one was white.

The city's new Force Investigation Unit, established last month, was handling the investigation.

Police said two drug enforcement detectives spotted several people with guns at the service station and drove to the parking lot. Their car was unmarked and they were in plain clothes but wearing black, bulletproof vests with the word “POLICE” written on the front and back.

Ross, armed with a gun according to the police report, walked away quickly to an alley. The detectives followed him and announced they were police officers. Ross allegedly ran, then tripped and fell, dropping a pistol.

As the detectives approached, Ross reached for the pistol, the report said, prompting both officers to shoot him. Ross was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The officers were unhurt.

It was the second fatal officer-involved shooting in St. Louis in less than a week. Officers killed a 61-year-old man last Wednesday at an apartment complex. Police said a man who had been evicted engaged police in a standoff. When officers entered the building, the man allegedly charged at officers with a butcher knife, prompting several to open fire.

In August, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed legislation creating a Division of Civilian Oversight, an independent agency to investigate allegations of police misconduct and use of force incidents. Under the new law, a Force Investigation Unit under the direction of the circuit attorney investigates use-of-force incidents.

The St. Louis region drew national scrutiny for officer-involved shootings of young Black men in the wake of Michael Brown's death in the St. Louis County town of Ferguson in August 2014. Brown, who was 18, was killed in a street confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing, but the shooting led to months of often-violent protests.