LADUE — A newspaper delivery boy stopped as a car on Ladue Road blocked his path. Gunmen casually left their car, then rushed to the newspaper hauler’s SUV and ordered it out.
He thought they would shoot him if he returned his vehicle. So he decided to buy time, hoping someone would come by and break up the carjacking.
“I thought: what could shake them? said the carrier. “And so I said, ‘Hey, the police are following me. They will arrive soon. “”
This lie was just enough to distract the gunmen, who turned to look down the street.
With that, the transporter pressed the accelerator pedal and steered around the car, blocking its path. Shots hit his car – and one hit him in the back – as he drove away.
The carrier is a 57-year-old man named Matt from St. Louis County. He asked that his last name be withheld for security reasons. The gunmen have not been arrested.
The shooting took place around 2.45am at Ladue Road and Maryhill Drive in Ladue, just east of the border with Creve Coeur.
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A bullet fired at Matt’s Honda CRV shattered a window and lodged near a visor. One pulled out a tire.
And a third bullet pierced the back of the SUV, went through the driver’s seat and hit Matt in the middle of the back. He felt pain and heat. He found the bullet in his Adidas ski jacket. Her back was bruised and had burns over a 5 inch circle.
Ladue Police Chief Ken Andreski Jr. said the two gunmen, in their late teens or early twenties, drove away in a red sedan, possibly a Pontiac Grand Prix.
The police remained rather discreet Friday on their search for the shooters. Andreski told the Post-Dispatch in an email that no arrests have been made but the investigation is “continuing and progressing well.”
The chief would not say whether detectives have a detailed description of the suspects to share with the public. He wouldn’t say if the suspects’ vehicle was recovered or if the doorbell or other surveillance cameras provided anything useful.
Post-Dispatch newspapers are among several newspapers distributed by an outside contractor, St. Louis News Distribution Services.
Matt has been delivering newspapers for 20 years. It has two routes. He is a sales manager for another company during the day.
He knows his routes so well, he knows every bend, every bend and every dip in the road. In all his years as a carrier, he was never robbed or attacked until Tuesday, he said. His car was hit at least twice by suspected drunk drivers. During the night shift, he comes to the attention of the police as he enters and leaves the subdivisions. He has been arrested several times and says he got along well with officers once he explained what he was doing.
Early Tuesday, Matt was driving east on Ladue Road, about a third of the way through his four-hour route. Before arriving at Lindbergh Boulevard, he noticed a car behind him about 100 yards away. He turned off his overhead light, in case they weren’t doing any good. After his SUV and the other car drove through the intersection, Matt said the car drove past his vehicle. The car came to a slanted stop in front of him, blocking the eastbound lane.
Two men got out of the car, as if they were going to drive away, but suddenly “rushed towards me,” Matt said. One of them arrived outside his driver’s side door, hovering over Matt’s left shoulder. The other was in the front passenger window. What Matt saw most clearly, he said, was the silver — the reflection of the metal on part of the handguns each man carried.
A man grabbed the doorknob. Matt had kept his vehicle running with its doors locked.
They yelled at him, swearing to get out, but Matt didn’t leave. He lowered the passenger-side window slightly. He was buying time.
“I was trying to slow down the process,” Matt said in an interview on Friday. “Try to keep them calm.”
To himself, he thinks, Go police. Come to this corner.
To the gunmen, however, Matt says something else: “Hey, I gotta take my hat off. I can’t hear you.”
A man cursed Matt out again.
Matt’s mind was racing. That’s when he lied about the police following him – the distraction that gave Matt time to escape. He drove around the suspects’ car, through a gap to its right, scraped his tires against the curb and drove off.
The gunmen fired at Matt’s leaking SUV. Matt lowered his head.
“I went up to 105” miles per hour, Matt recalled, as he raced the roads he knew so well. He hoped that a police car would stop him and come to his aid, but that did not happen. He drove to The Gatesworth, a senior center on his route. He knew there was an outpost for the University City police there. It was about three miles from where he had been shot.
When he arrived at The Gatesworth he told an officer what had happened and then an ambulance arrived.
“It was a great feeling that I got there,” he said. “It was my sanctuary.”
The police generally tell victims of crime never to resist a robbery. A few friends have since asked Matt why he didn’t ditch the car.
“Because I’ve heard stories that when you get out of the car they’ll shoot you in the legs so you can’t run for help,” Matt said. “Inside a car, I had at least metal and a window and I used them” as a cover.
After the shooting early Tuesday, Matt was assessed at a hospital and sent home. His boss told him to take some time off, but Matt opted to return to work for his route later that night. He said he knew he would replay the experience in his head if left in a quiet home.
So he chose to work to occupy himself.