Deshawn Thomas: St Louis man, 23, charged with murder after casually shooting homeless man in head on sidewalk
Warning: Graphic content, readers’ discretion advised.
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI: A 23-year-old man named Deshawn Thomas was charged with murder Tuesday, February 28, after police caught him on video shooting a homeless man, David Saldana, in the head Monday afternoon, February 27. Thomas was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the shooting.
The suspect killed the man around 10.am on February 27 after an argument near the Shell gas station in the 700 block of North Tucker Boulevard, reports St Louis Dispatch. Thomas then fled the scene, and around 2.40 pm, police caught the suspect entering a library on Olive Street and took him into custody, KMOV reports. However, the terrifying moment when the suspect shot the man was captured by witnesses who shared the short video, which circulated on the Internet. However, it was later removed due to its graphic nature.
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Video of the crime
The video first shows the suspected shooter loading his gun for about 30 seconds while standing behind the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk outside the Globe Building in St Louis. The suspect then pulls the trigger in broad daylight, killing the man who has his arms raised at one point. In one of the videos, a witness can be heard saying, "Oh my god. He just f**king killed him."
'It was just blocks from city hall and broad daylight'
An owner of a jewellery store, which is across the street from where the shooting happened, said, “It’s scary, you know, of course. You get concerned about what’s going to happen to anybody else. When I came here, I’d seen people standing outside, the guy was on the ground. I heard he was shot from close range,” reports KMOV.
The video of the crime was circulated on social media on February 28. Missouri State Senator Ben Brown was one of the recipients who said, as per KSDK, "I had somebody that sent it to me, saying that they were just in tears and just asking like, can the Senate do something? It was just blocks from city hall and broad daylight. There is always going to be crime to some extent but I don't remember ever seeing the kind of boldness that we're seeing right now or people feel they can go out in broad daylight in public and the horrific scene, execute somebody right on the street." "St Louis is for a long time been one of the major economic engines of our state. I don't want that to be what St Louis and Missouri are known for, we have so much to offer in the state and it's really sad that these are the headlines," he added.
Major Ryan Cousins of the St Louis police department said, "Any homicide is unnerving, but for this one to happen here, at this time, very much so,” states Independent. While Les Sterman, who is the Chair of Citizens for a Greater Downtown St Louis, said, as quoted by KSDK, "It’s the brazenness ... time of day ... that there were a lot of people around at the time ... obviously someone taking a video. It's something we've been noting for several years about that particular location."
Missouri’s US Senator Josh Hawley criticized Kim Gardner, the local circuit attorney for the city of St Louis as he tweeted while sharing the video of the incident, "Kim Gardner must go. Prosecute the criminals."
Kim Gardner must go. Prosecute the criminals https://t.co/HTGKCO8VCb— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) February 28, 2023
Violence against homeless
In a similar incident, an unidentified man was shot to death on February 25 near a homeless encampment on the Coyote Creek Bike Trail in Santa Fe Springs. Paramedics rushed the victim to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An investigation is still under process and anyone with information was asked to call the Whittier police tip line at 562-567-9299, reports Whittier Daily News.
Federal data shows 582,462 people were homeless on a single night in January 2022, reports USA Today. Gray-Garcia, who grew up without a home in Los Angeles told KQED, "There are some people among us who are filled with hate and imbued with scarcity and violence as their own way to process racism, classism, ableism, you name it. But it’s constant. We’re spit on, harassed. You’re subject to the violence of exposure when you’re outside." The Seattle Police Department (SPD) released its 2022 annual report on crime statistics that showed “homelessness nexus went up by 11 incidents in 2022. Bias crimes against unhoused individuals, while still low compared to racial bias incidents, shot up by an alarming 229 percent in 2022," reports Real Change News.