Centreville officer shot and killed
The scene where Lt. Gregory Jonas, 58, was shot and killed early today outside the Ernest Smith Senior Apartments in Centreville. (Emily Rasinski/P-D)By Kim Bell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
UPDATE, 7:35 a.m. with new details from deputy police chief and interviews with neighbors.
CENTREVILLE, Ill. -- A veteran police officer has been shot and killed early today outside the Ernest Smith Senior Apartments in Centreville.
The officer is identified as Lt. Gregory Jonas, 58. He had been with the Centreville force for nearly 15 years and was an officer in Alorton before that.
Police say he was on-duty at about 2:30 a.m. today when someone fatally shot him at the complex in the 4700 block of Tudor Avenue.
The Major Case Squad has been activated to investigate the case. No arrests had been made.
Deputy Chief James Mister said Jonas was in uniform and on duty at the time. He had come to the apartment complex in an unmarked patrol car.
"He was making his nightly rounds," Mister said. "He was checking on a couple of guys when one of them came up behind him and shot him."
No other officers were hurt.
"He was everybody's friend, a good guy," Mister said. "He was well-known in the community out here. Everybody knew him to be a fair guy."
A lifelong resident of the apartment complex, Delano Mosley, said she woke to the sight of flashing police lights outside her window. Her heart sank, she said, when she found out the officer killed was someone she knew. Jonas was a quiet, friendly man who would drive around the neighborhood, waving from his police car, Mosley said. He also would take time out to throw a football with the kids, she said.
Another resident, Lillie Smith, said she woke up after the shooting, came outside and saw Jonas on his back, wounded on the ground, next to his police car with the car door open.
"He was shot up pretty bad, in the left eye," she said. "He was trying to say something. I stayed with him until the police arrived. I just told him, 'Hold on.' But he couldn't. That's sad. That's very sad."
Smith, 52, said she has lived in the apartment complex 14 years.
"We've been having a lot of shootings around here," she said. "Sometimes, they'll be shooting guns up in the air. Sometimes they are shooting at each other."
Smith said Jonas was one of the officers she trusted to try to curb that violence.
"He was the one who was trying to help us solve this," she said. "He'd stop and tell the boys on the corner to stay out of trouble."
Every morning, when Smith would leave for work about 5:30 a.m., she would see Jonas waiting in his police car until Smith got safely into her van.
"He was watching over us," she said.
This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.