Teen shot to death outside McDonald's restaurant
FRIDAY, MAY 15 2009 -- A teen-ager was shot Thursday night at a drive-through at this McDonald's near the corner of Lucas and Hunt and Pasadena roads in the city of Northwoods. (Emily Rasinski/P-D)
By Kim Bell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
UPDATED, 12:30 p.m., with information from Northwoods police chief, new court information, photo of victim and interviews with relatives.
NORTHWOODS -- Police have identified the teen-ager shot to death last night at a McDonald's restaurant drive-through in north St. Louis County.
The victim is Timothy A. Cherry Jr., 19, of the 5900 block of Drury Lane in St. Louis.
Police say Cherry was in the driver's seat of a PT Cruiser that stopped about 10 p.m. Thursday at the McDonald's, 3860 Lucas and Hunt Road in Northwoods. Two other males and a female were in the car with Cherry.
Someone fired shots into the car, hitting Cherry and one of the male passengers.
Cherry somehow managed to drive off, trying to flee the gunman. The car crossed Lucas and Hunt, headed west along Pasadena Boulevard and crashed and overturned three blocks from the McDonald's. Cherry died at the scene.
Timothy Cherry (Family photo)
The passenger who was shot and the other two people in the car were all taken to an area hospital. Police characterized their injuries as non-life threatening. Police are withholding the names of the injured passengers.
An autopsy on Cherry will be performed today.
Northwoods police have asked the St. Louis County Police Department to handle the investigation.
As of this morning, no arrests had been made. Police spokesman Rick Eckhard said investigators also don't know a motive for the shooting.
Cherry's uncle, Guy Chesser, said Cherry had been driving a car that belonged to the mother of a backseat passenger, the man who was shot in the chest. Chesser said that passenger had recently gotten out of jail.
"We warned him about his friends," Chesser said.
Chesser said the female passenger called him today to tell him what happened. She said the four friends had gone into the McDonald's restaurant to order their food and noticed a worker who they'd had run-ins with in the past. The restaurant was so busy, they left to order from the drive-through and were ambushed in the car a few minutes later, Chesser said.
Another uncle, Jerry Lewis, said: "It's crazy. Too many young kids not even making it to 20 years old."
In April, Cherry pleaded guilty in St. Louis Circuit Court to a charge of unlawful use of a weapon. He was put on two years' probation, court records show.
Cherry dropped out of school, but Lewis and Chesser said they helped convince him to return. They say he was to graduate later this month. Lewis got him interested in trade school, and Cherry told his uncles he would try to become a heating and cooling technician. He lived with his mother, grandmother and Chesser at the home on Drury, not far from Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis.
"We struggled with him and tried to get him back on track," Chesser said. "He was coming out of school this year."
Northwoods Police Chief Earl Heitzenroeder said police in his city have been called to the McDonald's before for an occasional fistfight or other trouble with teens congregating.
"It's not a persistent problem," he said.
Heitzenroeder said of Thursday's shooting: "It's an isolated deal, and we're hoping it's over."
Heitzenroeder said the McDonald's does not have security officers -- "there's really not a need for that," he added. But the restaurant does have surveillance cameras, although Heitzenroeder didn't know if the murder was captured on tape.
The first Northwoods police officer on the scene had been patrolling nearby and rushed to the McDonald's after hearing the shots, Heitzenroeder said.