St. Clair Square shooting ‘not random’ police chief says

Fairview Heights Police say a shooting at the St. Clair Square shopping mall that sent one person to the hospital was not a random attack.

In an evening press conference on Thursday, Chief Christopher Locke said two handguns believed to have been used in the shooting have been recovered.

The victim, whose name has not been released, is in stable condition at a St. Louis hospital, Locke said.

“During our investigation, we learned the individuals who took part in this senseless act were known to each other,” Locke said.

Two suspects were arrested on Illinois 159, near the entrance of the mall and remain in custody. A third person believed to have been involved remains at large, Locke said.

Reading a prepared statement and not taking questions from the media, Locke declined to comment on the status of any possible charges.

Anyone with information or who knows the whereabouts of the third suspect is asked to call Fairview Heights Police at 618-489-2100.

The Fairview Heights Police Department said in a news release Thursday afternoon that officers were dispatched at about 4:18 p.m. to a call reporting that shots had been fired inside the mall.

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Fairview Heights Police Chief Christopher Locke addresses members of the media. Locke said the shooting at the St. Clair Square shopping mall was not a random attack. Derik Holtmann [email protected]

Locke said the officers arrived “within seconds.”

The victim was transported to a local hospital and later airlifted to a St. Louis hospital, the chief said. The two suspects were detained “while police sort out what occurred,” the release stated.

Locke credited witnesses with providing information to officers so that an arrest of the two suspects could be made.

“While officers were responding, witnesses alerted us to two suspicious individuals,” he said.

Tristan Bergman, who works at the mall, described the experience as terrifying.

“Me and my coworker were just sitting, doing our usual thing and then we thought we heard gun shots,” Bergman said. “We weren’t really sure. The mall is always loud. But to be safe, we just locked the door and ran to the back and hid. Then we heard the helicopter and knew it was serious. We’re just glad that we’re OK.”

There was a heavy police presence at the mall, and law enforcement began blocking off parking lot entrances around 5:30 p.m. Fairview Heights police said the mall was shut down for the evening.

Officers from Belleville, Caseyville, O’Fallon and Swansea police departments assisted at the scene, as did Illinois State Police and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.

DeAsia Paige, Lexi Cortes and Derik Holtmann contributed to this story.

This story was originally published January 20, 2022 10:22 PM.

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Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and is from St. Louis.