Catholic Supply shooting

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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.[1][2]

Incident[edit]

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.[3] The suspect ordered the women to strip and submit to sexual intercourse; when one of the women refused to comply, he shot her.[4][5] The injured woman, identified as 53-year old Jamie Schmidt, was transported to the hospital, where she died.[6]

Suspect[edit]

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.[1] 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.[3]

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.[7][8]

Thomas Bruce is a United States Navy veteran.[8] Bruce and his wife, Diane, filed for bankruptcy on January 2017, listing $92,000 in assets and $159,000 in debt.[8] Thomas Bruce was unemployed at the time of the crime.[8]

From 2003 to 2007 Bruce was pastor of a congregation of a few dozen people, Calvary Chapel of Cape Girardeau.[8]


Legal proceedings[edit]

Suspect Thomas Bruce is being held without bail.[8]

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.[8] He was charged on December 4, 2018, with 17 felony counts, including murder in the first degree and multiple counts of sodomy.[9]

According to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, Bruce could be subject to the death penalty.[8][5]

Additional charges[edit]

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.[10]

Death penalty[edit]

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.[11][8][12][13] 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.[14]

Catholic Supply[edit]

Catholic Supply, the store where the shooting took place, reopened on December 5, 2018, following a prayer service led by Archbishop Robert Carlson.[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rice, Christine Byers, Denise Hollinshed, Rachel. "Gunman on the loose after fatal shooting, sexual assault at Catholic Supply store in St. Louis County". stltoday.com. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "Woman shot, another sexually assaulted in Catholic supply store outside St. Louis". CBS News. AP. November 20, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Bell, Christine Byers, Kim. "House Springs woman was victim in Catholic Supply murder, police say". stltoday.com. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Gander, Kashmira (November 24, 2018). "Pro-Gun Pastor Accused of Kidnapping Women, Shooting One who Refused to Have Sex With Him". Newsweek. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Lieu, Amy (November 27, 2018). "Suspect in Catholic store shooting could face death penalty, report says". Fox News (national). Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  6. ^ McMunn, Dan Greenwald, JJ Bailey, Dan Fredman, Andrew. "House Springs woman killed in Catholic Supply store shooting; search continues for gunman". KMOV.com. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Miller, Joshua Rett (November 29, 2018). "Suspect left his business card just before brutal killing at Catholic Supply store: cops". New York Post. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Patrick, Robert; Benchaabane, Nassim (November 27, 2017). "Catholic Supply suspect requests public defender". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Suspect in Catholic Supply store shooting appears in court". Washington Post. AP. December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "Suspect in deadly Missouri Catholic Supply store attack accused in earlier assault". Fox. AP. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  11. ^ Blume, Brett (28 November 2018). "Former STL County Police Chief Wants Death Penalty for Catholic Supply Killer If Thomas Bruce is convicted, Tim Fitch doesn't think Wesley Bell will push for it, though". KMOX. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  12. ^ Byers, Christine (28 November 2018). "Death penalty should be on the table for Catholic Supply killer, former police chief says". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Calls to seek the death penalty in Catholic Supply case". KTVI. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  14. ^ Murphy, Doyle (27 November 2018). "Email Print Share Ex-St. Louis Co Police Chief to Wesley Bell: Give Catholic Supply Shooter to Feds". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ Madden, Roche (December 4, 2018). "Catholic Supply reopening Wednesday after prayer for victims and blessing". Fox News - St. Louis. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  16. ^ Currier, Joel; Bell, Kim (December 5, 2018). "As Catholic Supply murder suspect appears in court, West County store reopens". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved December 5, 2018.