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The Latest: 24-year-old charged in weekend St. Louis killing

December 24, 2018

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on deadly shootings in St. Louis (all times local):

12:05 p.m.

A 24-year-old man has been charged in one of the weekend killings in St. Louis after he was nabbed by an off-duty officer.

Romello Thomas is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm, theft of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon in the death of 27-year-old Kourtney Steed. Police say officers received a call Sunday about a shooting and found Steed wounded in a home.

An off-duty, but uniformed, police officer from the suburb of Northwoods chased after Thomas and arrested him. Police say a firearm was recovered.

Steed was one of five people killed over a 24-hour span in St. Louis, starting Saturday night. The other victims were 33-year-old John Watson, 24-year-old Brian Henley, 25-year-old Kevin Brown and 53-year-old Darren Avery.

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11:05 a.m.

Authorities are releasing the names of four of the five people who were fatally shot over a 24-hour span this weekend in St. Louis.

Police say the first victim was 33-year-old John Watson, who was shot around 7:40 p.m. Saturday. Police responded around 4 a.m. Sunday to the deadly shooting of two other victims — 24-year-old Brian Henley and 25-year-old Kevin Brown. Henley was found in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with an uninjured 3-year-old girl inside, and Brown was in the street.

The fourth victim was found around 12:30 p.m. Sunday near a sidewalk. He was identified only as a 53-year-old man. The fifth victim was identified as 27-year-old Kourtney Steed. He was found dead in a home just before 5 p.m. Sunday.

A suspect was arrested in Steed’s deaths, but no suspects have been identified in the other killings.

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10 a.m.

Authorities say five people were fatally shot and several others wounded over a 24-hour span this weekend in St. Louis.

The spate of shootings happened days after the city’s police chief announced a drop in homicides and other violent crime.

Police found the first victim dead in the street around 7:40 p.m. Saturday. He had been shot in the chest.

Around 4 a.m. Sunday, officers found a wounded man and woman. Police later confirmed they had died.

Police say a fourth victim was killed around 1:10 p.m. Sunday, and a fifth was found dead around 5 p.m. Sunday.

Weekend shootings also left several people wounded, including two men who survived gunshot wounds to the chest.

No other details were immediately released, including the names of the victims or the motives.

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6:15 a.m.

Homicides and other violent crimes are down substantially in St. Louis this year, and the city’s police chief believes a strategy of focusing on high-crime areas has paid off.

Chief John Hayden presented figures along with a strategic plan of action for 2019 during a town hall meeting Wednesday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Hayden cited figures showing that St. Louis has had 174 homicides through mid-December, compared to 205 last year, a 20-year high .

Robberies are down 25 percent, with 469 fewer reported. Burglary is down 6.2 percent and larceny is down 3.3 percent. Reported rapes rose 5 percent.

Hayden, who became chief in December 2017 , implemented a strategy of increased policing in an area of north St. Louis where much of the violence has traditionally occurred.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease in crime where it was happening the most,” Hayden said. “Look at where we started, and where we are now.”

Strategies used in the targeted area included cracking down on open-air drug markets, increased visibility in traffic patrols and ticketing, assistance from the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, an increase in security cameras and license plate reading cameras, and implementing community programs to engage with residents.

Hayden said the department intends to implement two more areas of focus in 2019.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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