Mo. LEO shot while attempting to arrest suspect

The LEO who was struck was protected by his bullet-resistant vest, said Marshal spokesman Patrick James


By Kim Bell
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A police officer was shot Monday morning when a fugitive opened fire on members of a U.S. Marshals Service task force who went to arrest him.

The officer who was struck was protected by his bullet-resistant vest, said Marshal spokesman Patrick James.

"We're very, very lucky today," James said.

Police shot at the suspect several times, and believe he was hit, James said, but the man hasn't been arrested yet. It was unclear where he was between a yard strewn with "junk" and a property with a home and a carport where he could be hiding or injured, James said. A SWAT team arrived to help, but began packing up to leave about 12:30 p.m. It wasn't immediately clear whether the man had been found or taken into custody.

The task force first went to a home in the 10300 block of Durness Drive about 9:30 a.m. to arrest the man after he failed to show up for sentencing in a domestic assault case, James said. When they arrived, he was in his front yard and opened fire on the police, James said.

One of the bullets hit the officer in the vest. The unidentified injured officer works in St. Charles County but was assigned to the fugitive task force.

"He's alert, he's talking and he'll be fine but is on his way to the hospital" as a precaution, to make sure there is no internal bleeding or other serious injuries, James added.

Police returned fire and believe they hit the man.

"There's junk everywhere on the property," James said. "They think he barricaded himself on the carport. They think they hit him a couple times."

Jennifer Watson said the man in the home is her brother, William Watson Jr., 40, and that her 2-year-old niece may also be in the home. She wasn't sure and was trying to find out where the girl was.

She showed up at the scene Monday morning but was kept back by police. "I don't know if the baby is in there!" she shouted at officers. She said they wouldn't let her go try to coax her brother out.

Domestic assault case

Watson was convicted of domestic assault in a September bench trial before Judge Michael Burton. The judge allowed Watson to be released on bond until his sentencing, set for Nov. 6.

But Watson failed to show up in court for the sentencing, and Burton issued an arrest warrant for failure to appear.

His attorney, Michael Hufty, said the underlying case was for second-degree domestic assault and violating an order of protection. At the bench trial, the defense argued that a woman came at Watson with a knife and that he disarmed her; she testified that he choked and body-slammed her.

After the conviction, Hufty said he had been expecting Watson would get probation in the domestic assault case and thought it was a good sign that Burton didn't revoke Watson's bond and instead allowed him to remain out on bond until the sentencing date.

The fugitive task force also planned to arrest Watson for first-degree assault, according to James. The details of that case weren't clear. The lawyer who represented Watson in the domestic violence case said he had no information about a shooting case. He said he hasn't talked to his client since the trial.

Records indicate Watson had a previous conviction for unlawful use of a weapon in 1997 in St. Louis city.

Ashley Jost of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

©2018 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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