Amid the incredible violence that plagued the city of St. Louis last week, one officer was sent to the hospital -- along with a suspect who reportedly crashed into him during a police chase. In the chaos of that evening, the suspect managed to flee from the emergency room.
"The department's performance was not perfect," St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says in a blog post today reflecting on last week's violence. "I'm bitterly disappointed to report that one suspect escaped from his hospital room due to inadequate security on our part. The suspect is back in custody. We have reviewed our protocols and practices."
Beyond that, Dotson praises his officers' work last week -- and calls for harsher sentencing and a reformed parole system in the wake of this latest gun violence.
As a quick recap, last week was an unusually violent one for St. Louis starting with an early morning shooting on Monday inside a 7-Eleven, killing a clerk who immigrated to St. Louis last year after living in a refugee camp in Nepal for nearly two decades. He leaves behind an eight-year-old son and pregnant wife.
The following night, St. Louis cops responded to seven separate shooting incidents which resulted in eighteen injuries -- in addition to a stabbing. Then one day later, cops again faced a series of dangerous situations on duty involving multiple chases and shots fired at officers.
Last week, Dotson reveals in his blog post, there was also a spike in robberies and burglaries.
And on Thursday, a murder-suicide inside a Cherokee Street health care business left four dead.
"If you have been following the news, you are already aware that our city just went through an unusually bad week," Dotson writes. "In fact, I don't mind telling you, if St. Louis never sees another week like the last one, it will be too soon for me.
He notes that police have arrested and charged one man responsible for six of the eighteen injuries Monday night and have arrested two others who allegedly fired at a police officer on Tuesday night.
Still, Dotson says, it's time to give harsher sentences to these convicted criminals in an effort to stop repeat offenders from contributing to this violence. And, as he has repeatedly said since he started as chief in January, it needs to be more difficult for criminals to access guns:
But even with all the arrests we've made and the charges issued, I strongly believe that the culpable accomplices in last week's violence remain at large, despite the fact that we have clearly and repeatedly identified them.
Those culprits are: 1) Guns in the hands of violent criminals, and 2) Inadequate sentencing combined with a probation/parole system that just doesn't work.
One of the people we arrested was a previously convicted armed robber, released - on unsupervised probation - after serving only 120 days. No doubt when the other cases have been solved, we will find out that several of the suspects are also previously convicted criminals or arrestees, released back into society too soon, with too little supervision, and with far too easy access to the handguns that have flooded our streets.
You can read his full commentary here: "June 9 - June 15: A Week in Review."