St. Louis, MO – A 16-year-old boy armed with a gun was fatally shot by St. Louis officers as he reached for the weapon during a foot pursuit on Sunday night, according to police.
The incident began at the Shell gas station on North Florissant Road at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 11, KTVI reported.
Plainclothes detectives from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s (SLMPD) Drug Enforcement and Intervention Unit were in the area in an unmarked vehicle when they allegedly spotted multiple individuals armed with guns.
The officers, who were wearing ballistic vests emblazoned with the word “Police” on the both the back and front, approached one of the armed suspects as he attempted to walk off into a nearby alley, KTVI reported.
Police said the suspect, later identified as 16-year-old Darryl Ross, began running after the officers identified themselves as members of law enforcement.
Investigators said Ross ran through a hole in the fence and circled back towards the gas station with two officers in pursuit, KTVI reported.
During the chase, he allegedly tripped on a curb and fell onto the sidewalk, dropping his gun in the process.
Police said Ross reached for the firearm as they closed in on him, at which point they both fired their weapons at the teen, KSDK reported.
The officers rendered aid to the wounded suspect while emergency medical personnel responded to the scene.
Ross was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, KSDK reported.
No officers were physically injured during the encounter.
One of the SLMPD officers who fatally shot Ross is 27 years old and has been with the department for four years, KSDK reported.
The other officer is 37 years old and has served the SLMPD for the past 14 years.
The SLMPD’s Force Investigation Unit is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
Both officers have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office, the Shell gas station where the group of armed suspects had convened had previously been deemed a public nuisance, KSDK reported.
SLMPD officers have been called to the intersection where the business is located on more than 100 occasions this year alone, a SLMPD spokesperson said.
Jones said the investigative findings will be forwarded to the Circuit Attorney’s Office and the Civilian Oversight Board once they are completed, KSDK reported.
Ross’s family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that police lied about the series of events leading up to the fatal shooting.
They did not dispute allegations that Ross was armed, but claimed he never reached for his gun at any point during the encounter.
They further alleged that the officers did not identify themselves as law enforcement officers.
Jones said she has ordered the city’s Public Safety Department to allow Ross’s family to view any police bodycam footage of the incident as soon as possible, KSDK reported.
“Our communities rightfully have questions,” the mayor said in a statement. “Alongside the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, my administration is working to strengthen oversight because building trust through transparency and accountability is essential. I remain fully committed to delivering effective oversight of our police department, as well as alternative responses that connect the right professionals to the right call for those experiencing mental health crises and similar challenges.”
Jones further declared that the teens’ death “shows how our system has failed” the city’s youth “time and time again,” KSDK reported.
“Reflecting on the circumstances that led up to this young man’s death breaks my heart, both as a mayor and as a mother of a teenage son,” she added.