Good Samaritan in Starbucks case dies
By Kim Bell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Police are looking for this couple.
UPDATED, 10:30 a.m.
CRESTWOOD -- The Good Samaritan who was run over by a car while trying to stop thieves from stealing a tip jar from Starbucks died this morning.
Mary Jo Wich, a spokeswoman for St. Anthony's Medical Center in south St. Louis County, said Roger Kreutz died about 2 a.m. today.
At a news conference this morning, Crestwood Police Chief Mike Paillou said detectives were following several leads but had no solid suspect in mind. Advertisement
"There are a lot of brown-haired guys out there with blonde-haired girlfriends," Paillou said, referring to the suspects' descriptions.
The chief said detectives had been working around the clock since Monday and that now that Kreutz has died, the case has now turned from an assault to a homicide investigation. Paillou said an autopsy is being performed. Once those results are known, he'll have a better idea whether the case will be classified as a vehicle homicide or something else.
Paillou urged the suspects to turn themselves in. "There's two sides to every story. We need to talk to the suspects," Paillou said.
Many tips have flowed into the police hotline and some tipsters have given police names of potential suspects. Paillou added that detectives were in Jefferson County late last night tracking at least one of those leads.
The suspects, a young couple , stole the money and the tip jar from Starbucks. The 54-year-old Kreutz ran after the couple and was run down by their car. It happened about 3 p.m. Monday, in the parking lot of the new Crestwood Starbucks at 9590 Watson Road.
Kreutz' father, Edward Kreutz Sr., confirmed his son's death today. RELATED LINK
TALK: Would you have tried to stop the Starbucks thieves?
Kreutz Sr. had been vacationing in Florida when his son was injured. He returned to St. Louis County on Tuesday night to be at the bedside of his son in the hospital.
"I just got to see Roger before he passed away," Kreutz Sr. said this morning, as he choked back tears. "His vital signs just collapsed."
"It's so useless," the father added. "It's insane what these people do."
A $20,000 reward has been posted -- half by Starbucks and half by an anonymous donor. Crestwood has had two teams of detectives on the streets, tracking down leads.
"All this for a tip jar of 5 dollars and 20 cents!" said William Banmiller, one of Roger Kreutz's friends and co-workers. Banmiller is manager of the Holiday Inn that the Kreutz family owns.
Images of the thieves have been all over local television, in the newspaper and posted on STLtoday.com for more than 24 hours now.
Banmiller is livid at the two thieves.
"These jerks are the scum of the earth," Banmiller said today. "Maybe they dumped the car in the lake and took the first train to Alaska. But they've got to have friends, and somebody's going to talk."
Anyone with information is asked to call St. Louis CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477 or Crestwood police at 314-729-4800.
Kreutz Sr. said the family is making funeral arrangements today at Bopp chapel in Kirkwood.
OUR EARLIER STORY:
By Elizabethe Holland and Kim Bell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
CRESTWOOD — It was little surprise to Roger Kreutz's family that he would run after a man who stole the tip jar from a coffee shop.
For what police said turned out to be less than $5, Kreutz, 54, a Crestwood resident and businessman, nearly lost his life. As he tried to stop the thief from driving off Monday afternoon from the Crestwood Starbucks he frequents, Kreutz was run over by the getaway car.
His brother, Chris Kreutz, said Roger Kreutz suffered serious head trauma and remained in critical condition Tuesday evening at St. Anthony's Medical Center in south St. Louis County.
"It's senseless," said Chris Kreutz, who described his brother as duty-bound and "very protective."
The crime was taped by a security camera at the Starbucks, at 9590 Watson Road. The video, which can be viewed on STLtoday.com, shows a young man and woman whom Crestwood police were seeking Tuesday. It also shows Roger Kreutz, in line behind the couple and then alongside the man.
According to police, the couple walked in about 3 p.m. Monday. The woman bought a drink, then walked to the parking lot. The man grabbed the jar and walked out.
Kreutz, at the Starbucks to buy iced lattes for himself and his brother, saw it all. He is a regular customer and well-liked by the shop's staff, police said. He chased the thief out to the parking lot.
"The car door was open, they sped off and he gets run over," said police Capt. Rick Downs. "He ended up underneath the car." The car sped east on Watson Road.
Customers saw the whole thing. One, a nurse, administered first aid.
Kreutz, whose family owns the Holiday Inn and Viking Conference Center at Watson and Lindbergh Boulevard, is the eldest of five sons. His brother Chris said Roger Kreutz's place in the family has much to do with how he is so "very loyal, very protective, very caring, very loving."
"He's a wonderful man," Chris Kreutz said. "He's my best friend."
The two live at the family's Holiday Inn and usually make twice-daily runs together to Starbucks.
"They know us by our name, they know us by our coffee," Chris Kreutz said.
Monday afternoon, though, Roger went alone, planning to meet Chris back at the hotel's fitness room.
Instead, Chris got a call from the hospital about 4:15 p.m., asking him to hurry there.
"It's unbelievable," Chris Kreutz said. "I was on my way over here and we were praying he was going to be OK. ... This is not a bad dream. This is reality."
Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman with the Starbucks Coffee Co. in Seattle, said their stores have had tip jars stolen, but never with a result like this. "It's sad on so many levels," she said.
Starbucks is underwriting, through CrimeStoppers, a $10,000 reward. An anonymous donor added $10,000 to it.
The Crestwood Starbucks didn't open for business Tuesday due to the incident, Police Chief Mike Paillou said.
"They need their time, too," he said.
Getaway car driver: He is described as a white man, 17 to 20 years old and about 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1. He has brown hair that covers his ears. He has a thin build and wore blue jeans and a hooded brown jacket with a tan stripe.
Woman with him: She is described as white and 16 to 19 years old. She has a medium build, blond shoulder-length hair and wore a Led Zeppelin shirt and a black jacket.
Car description: They sped off in a white 1990s Ford Taurus.
If you have any information: Call St. Louis CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477 or Crestwood police at 314-729-4800.