Velda City man killed in bungled carjacking, police say
BY PATRICK M. O'CONNELL
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
VELDA CITY — Booker Washington was a family man who loved rollerskating and volunteering at his church.
He also happened to drive an expensive SUV, which police said was the apparent target of a bloody, bungled carjacking by two gunmen. Washington was killed in front of his wife as the couple returned home from St. Louis on Thursday night, police said.
Washington, 65, died at the scene just a few houses from his own shortly after the 11 p.m. shooting in the 6900 block of Edison Avenue. Washington's wife, Freddie, was robbed of her purse at gunpoint but was not physically hurt, police and family members said.
Investigators are looking for the two gunmen, who left the scene in a dark-colored vehicle. Police are examining the Washingtons' Infiniti SUV for evidence.
Investigators said the couple had cooperated with the gunmen. Freddie told police that her husband had put his hands in the air moments before he was shot.
"They were driving a nice vehicle and coming from a bad part of town, headed home, and the suspects were just looking for a nice car to steal," St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Norman Mann said. "The big question is why did (the suspects) shoot if they were cooperating."
Among the possible reasons, Mann said, are that the gunmen were startled by a passer-by or that one of the guns accidentally discharged.
Booker Washington was a retired assembly worker at Wagner Electric, said his oldest son, Juan. "He just wanted everyone to live life to the fullest and to reach an elder age," Juan Washington said Friday morning in the living room of his father's home, where loved ones cooked food and gathered in support. "He just loved his family and friends."
Juan Washington said Freddie Washington is doing as well as expected considering the circumstances.
"It's still like a nightmare to me," Juan Washington said. "I haven't even woken up from it."
Booker Washington was well-liked and respected by neighbors on the block of brick homes and tidy, well-kept yards in Velda City. The neighborhood is south of Natural Bridge Road, a few blocks east of Lucas and Hunt Road.
Juan Washington believes the targeting of his father and stepmother was a crime of opportunity for two would-be car thieves on a dark, rainy night.
Booker Washington was on the usher board at Leonard Baptist Church at 1100 North Compton Avenue in St. Louis. He especially enjoyed Wednesday night rollerskating at the Skate King in Pine Lawn, his son said.
Booker Washington also leaves behind two other sons, Darren and Angelo, and several grandchildren, nieces and nephews. The family has not yet arranged funeral or memorial services. Anyone with information about the shooting or the suspects should contact St. Louis County police Detective John Bradley at 314-615-8626, Sgt. Craig Longworth at 314-615-8609 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.