Catholic Supply shooting
On November 19, 2018, a man, later identified by police as Thomas Bruce, entered a Catholic Supply store in a strip mall in St. Louis County, Missouri, and sexually assaulted two women, shooting another woman in the head when she refused to undress at his command, before leaving the store. The incident was reported to 911 at 3:19 pm.
According to a 911 caller, the shooter entered the store and ordered the women inside to strip at gunpoint and sexually assaulted several of them before shooting one in the head. The suspect ordered the women to strip and submit to sexual intercourse; when one of the women refused to comply, he shot her. The injured woman, identified as 53-year old Jamie Schmidt, was transported to the hospital, where she died.
Witness descriptions to police detailed the perpetrator as a white male, about 5 feet 7 inches with a heavy build and aged 40 to 50, with a black jacket and blue jeans with a large belt and a black or gray hat. The description was updated by police on November 20, that the perpetrator was 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing a paper-boy style hat, a navy blue Carhartt-style jacket, and a red, white and black plaid shirt.
Responding officers found no evidence at the crime scene to help them identify a suspect. However, officers interviewed workers at neighboring businesses and a server at the Hotshots sports bar recognized the description of the suspect as matching that of a man who had recently left his business card. Police sifted through the trash, found the card, and immediately went to his home to make the arrest. The manhunt lasted just under two days.
Thomas Bruce is a United States Navy veteran. Bruce and his wife, Diane, filed for bankruptcy on January 2017, listing $92,000 in assets and $159,000 in debt. Thomas Bruce was unemployed at the time of the crime.
Suspect Thomas Bruce is being held without bail.
He was arraigned on November 27, 2018, on charges of first-degree murder and on multiple counts of sodomy, armed criminal action, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence. He was charged on December 4, 2018, with 17 felony counts, including murder in the first degree and multiple counts of sodomy.
Trisha Stefanski, the Jefferson County prosecuting attorney, has charged Bruce with invading the home of a 77-year-old woman near Hillsboro on September 27, 2018, kidnapping, sexually abusing, assaulting, and robbing.
A political conversation developed in the wake of the murder over whether or not newly elected County Prosecutor Wesley Bell will pursue the death penalty if Bruce is convicted. Former St. Louis police chief Tim Fitch has urged Bell to turn the case over to federal prosecutors so that they can seek the death penalty.
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