Scooters and crowds of teenagers create a safety hazard in downtown St. Louis over the weekend | Local

ST. LOUIS — Flocks of young people gathered downtown over the weekend, causing traffic and safety issues for those attending events in the area, acting director of public safety Dan Isom.

Many young people came to downtown on Sunday for Annie Malone’s May Day Parade, Isom said at a weekly press briefing.

In addition to the parade crowd, thousands were downtown Saturday and Sunday to watch the Cardinals take on the Giants.

Isom urged parents to stop dropping off their children to hang around downtown unsupervised.

Not only are mobs of young people diverting police resources from neighborhood crime prevention, Isom said, but these young people are also disrupting the general security of the area with electric scooters for rent and illegal activities.

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While the crowd of youngsters caused unrest and security concerns, Isom confirmed only one illegal incident was reported to the police. It involved someone firing a gun near a crowd of people on Sunday night.

No one was injured and police are still working to identify the person who fired the shots, he said.

“We haven’t seen that volume of young people downtown, and we’re definitely entering the summer months…but hopefully that was attributed to the parade and the fallout from the parade,” Isom said. .

Those who have been involved in various downtown security efforts for some time said this kind of behavior happens every spring when the weather warms up.

“It’s the same old story, it repeats itself every spring,” said Brad Waldrop, a business broker who owns property on Washington Avenue.

In an effort to control seasonal crowds, city police announced in April increased patrols between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in the city center. To reduce traffic and waterfront congestion, the city also began closing Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard at 7 p.m.

Waldrop and Dan Pistor, who chair the Downtown Neighborhood Association’s public safety committee, said a few major factors contribute to crime and safety issues plaguing downtown: cruising, illegal vehicles, electric scooters, Airbnb parties. and unlicensed places serving alcohol.

Waldrop said it recently counted 1,000 electric scooters in the city center. He argues that the city lacks infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes, for so many people to ride these scooters safely.

A spokeswoman for Bird, one of the main companies that supply the scooters, said the company distributes scooters based on demand by looking at where they are picked up, where they are ridden and where they are left. Bird uses a local third-party supplier who manages and transports the scooters.

She said the company has developed a technology called ID scan through which Bird can require government ID to prevent anyone under the age of 18 from riding the scooters.

Similarly, a Lime Micromobility spokesperson wrote in a statement that the company, in addition to providing passengers with information on how to ride safely, is working with the city to address the safety issue.

“We will continue to work with the city and our local partners to prevent dangerous driving before it happens, and when we find repeated examples of inappropriate behavior, we will fine passengers and possibly even ban them from our platform,” the statement read.

Waldrop and Pistor both say the city needs a 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. curfew for minors in the city center. Currently, the curfew begins at 11 p.m. on weeknights and at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. But this weekend’s chaos happened earlier, according to Isom.

The head of Citizens for a Greater Downtown St. Louis, Les Sterman, told the Post-Dispatch he doesn’t think that’s the best solution.

“I think a curfew is quite a drastic measure, difficult to enforce,” he said. “Again, I think we just have to do some things that don’t make downtown a magnet for this kind of activity. I’m not necessarily opposed, I just don’t know how we would enforce a curfew.

The three men agree that the problem cannot be solved by the police alone, but rather through a collaborative effort between various city departments and the people who work and live downtown.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it was considering an earlier curfew. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot just established one after a teenager was fatally shot over the weekend in that city’s Millennium Park.

“A particularly violent weekend”

Across the city, there were more than a dozen non-fatal shootings and five homicides over the weekend — four of which resulted from arguments between people who knew each other, Isom said.

The fifth homicide was the shooting death of 16-year-old Kyierah Jeffries around 3:45 p.m. Saturday in the 5900 block of Minnesota Avenue in the city’s Carondelet neighborhood.

Isom had no update Monday morning, but police confirmed they were working to identify the shooter.

The other four homicides took place on Saturday and Sunday:

• Melissa Moore, 39, died after being shot Saturday night at the Midtown Bar & Grill in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood. A man was also shot but survived.

• Police found an unidentified man shot dead on Saturday evening outside a house in the 3800 block of Eichelberger Street in the Bevo Mill neighborhood.

• A man died on Sunday afternoon after being shot near the River Trail Apartments in the Baden district of the city.

• A man was shot and killed Sunday afternoon at Roosevelt Place and Goodfellow Boulevard in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood. A woman was also shot but survived.

At least three men were shot downtown on Sunday but survived.


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Susan W. Lloyd