ST. LOUIS (AP) – As police investigated why a gunman killed two utility workers in St. Louis before fatally shooting himself, workers from Laclede Gas Co. and other utilities cautiously returned to the field Friday.
Police say a man walked up to the workers Thursday and started shooting, then turned the gun on himself. “It does not appear words were exchanged,” St. Louis police Capt. Mary Warnecke said.
Police believe the victims were picked at random. Laclede Gas and the electric company Ameren Missouri took workers off the city’s streets Thursday as a precaution, and Missouri American Water and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District removed workers from the immediate area of the shooting.
A gunman who killed two utility workers in St. Louis before killing himself had a long criminal history, including drug and assault convictions, court records show.
Police on Friday identified the gunman as Clinton Willis, who lived about a mile from where the Laclede Gas employees were shot Thursday. Police identified the slain workers as Alex Boschert, 27, and William Froelich, 52.
Police declined to discuss a possible motive, saying only that the shooting did not appear to be racially motivated. Willis was black and both workers were white.
Willis’ criminal history dates back more than 20 years and includes convictions on drug trafficking, assault and armed criminal action. Court records show he was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1997.
The shooting around 11:15 a.m. on St. Louis’ western edge came two days after a man wanted in the slaying of a security guard gunned down three men, including a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee, in unprovoked attacks in downtown Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who is black, was arrested shortly after the rampage, and posts on what appeared to be his Facebook page discussed wanting to kill white people.
Police described the St. Louis shooter as black and both victims as white, but there was no indication the shooting was racially motivated. Warnecke said police “have no motive at this point in the investigation.”
Manyika McCoy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the workers were connecting gas service to a home she was moving into – one was using a jackhammer and another was in a backhoe. She said she was at her mother’s house nearby when she saw a man walking purposefully down the street toward the workers.
“I heard pop, pop,” McCoy, 37, said.
The worker in the backhoe “was saying, ‘Wait, wait,’ and the guy just kept shooting at him,” she said. The worker eventually collapsed in the street, she said.
Laclede, a natural gas distribution utility that serves the St. Louis area and portions of southeast Missouri, said it was “heartbroken” by the shooting.