St. Louis man, 22, charged with firefighter's shooting
FEBRUARY 11, 2009 - A St. Louis police detective leaves the scene of the shooting of a St. Louis firefighter at 942 Beach Avenue. The firefighter was shot when he interrupted a burglary as he arrived home. (Robert Cohen/P-D)By Leah Thorsen
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
UPDATED, 4:03 p.m.
Prosecutors this afternoon charged a 22-year-old St. Louis man with the shooting of a city firefighter who interupted burglars after returning home from lunch with his wife on Wednesday, police said.
The man -- Terrence Hendricks, of the 4000 block of St. Louis Avenue -- was charged with first-degree assault, third-degree assault, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and three counts of armed criminal action.
He is being held at the St. Louis jail. No word on bail.
The firefighter, Ernest Strong, is still in critical condition at a hospital after being shot four times at his home in the 900 block of Beach Avenue.
Police are still searching for the two men who police say also committed the crimes.
ST. LOUIS — Only one suspect is in police custody today in connection with Wednesday's shooting of an off-duty St. Louis firefighter. Police let a second man go after questioning. They are now looking for two more suspects.
The firefighter, meanwhile, remained in critical but stable condition this morning at a local hospital, a fire department spokesman said. The firefighter, Ernest Strong, underwent two hours of surgery Wednesday to save his life, authorities said.
Strong was off-duty when he was shot at his home about 2 p.m. Wednesday. Strong had gone to lunch with his wife and returned to his home in the 900 block of Beach Avenue when he surprised some burglars, said Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.
Police said Strong was shot four times in the chest and abdomen during an "altercation" with the burglars outside his house and that witnesses gave descriptions of three burglars. On Wednesday night, police said that two people matching the descriptions were being questioned by detectives and that they were searching for a third suspect.
But late this morning, police announced that only one suspect, a 22-year-old man, was being held. Police said the second man being questioned Wednesday has been let go, after he was "excluded" as a suspect. Police are looking for two others.
Police said the won't be identifying the 22-year-old suspect unless prosecutors file charges.
On Wednesday afternoon, detectives examined the white, two-story house on Beach Avenue, a short, dead-end street, as concerned firefighters looked on. The home is in a neighborhood with a mix of boarded-up buildings and both older and brand-new homes, just north of Delmar.
Strong's adult daughter was home at the time, Jenkerson said, and she was struck a few times by the intruders.
Strong, 53, is a 10-year department veteran and has been stationed at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for the past two years, Jenkerson said.
"He's a strong member of the St. Louis Fire Department," he said.
Strong was still in critical condition late Wednesday and had lost a lot of blood, Jenkerson said.
Jenkerson said about 45 firefighters came to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where Strong underwent surgery, to show their support.
It was the second time in a little more than three months that city firefighters have rushed to a hospital to be near a colleague who had been shot.
Firefighter Leonard Riggins was fatally wounded Nov. 5 when he stopped at the scene of a car wreck and was shot by the carjacker who had just stolen and crashed the vehicle.
"We don't want to lose any more," Jenkerson said. "We're still on edge."