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Gangbangers nearly kill two police officers in St. Louis


Major Spiess

Last Monday, 19 people were wounded in eight shootings in St. Louis. The following night a group of gangbangers opened fire on a St. Louis Police Major. Another cop was responding to that shooting when another gangbanger, with a stolen car full of stolen merchandise, slammed into his car.

From StLouisToday.com…

Police Major Joseph Spiess was among department brass who hit the streets after a particularly violent night this week, to help look for trouble.

He found some, and it almost killed him.

Spiess was among about a dozen top commanders helping supplement patrols Tuesday night after 19 people were wounded in eight incidents the night before.

By the time the shift ended, there would be two close calls for officers and one embarrassing mistake.

Spiess, 52, was alone, in uniform, driving an unmarked Chevrolet Impala about 9:22 p.m. when he spotted a suspicious-looking black Pontiac Bonneville with temporary license tags on Evans Avenue, heading west near Vandeventer Avenue.

He said he made a U-turn to follow, and the Pontiac’s driver would not stop for his lights and siren. The circumstances did not qualify under rules limiting pursuits, so he gave up at Evans and Sarah Street.

As Spiess continued along Evans, a man  jogged slowly toward him and stopped between parked cars about 12 feet away.

“He looks me dead in the eye, lifts his pistol and starts shooting at me,” Spiess said Wednesday. “The first round sounded like a shotgun went off in my car. Then I heard a high-pitched whine go through the (open) driver’s side window and out the passenger window.

“He looked at me square in the face, I’m in an Impala, wearing a police shirt, and he was looking me right in the eye. He knew who he was shooting at. He absolutely knew I was a policeman.”

Spiess said that as he sped off, he watched in the mirror as the gunman stepped to the middle of the street and continued firing.

About a block away, Spiess pulled over to check himself for wounds. “I remember thinking, ‘I have to be hit,’ ” he said. “I could not believe I wasn’t hit.”

His call for help triggered more trouble.

About the same time, a white Volkswagen, which fit the description from a robbery, fled from an attempted stop by a SWAT team sergeant at Natural Bridge and North Florissant avenues. Again, the officer did not pursue.

Yet another police car, responding to Spiess’ emergency, collided with the VW at Compton Avenue and Washington Boulevard. A male passenger fled on foot. The driver, a man, and a female passenger were taken to a hospital in serious condition. The officer, 35, was treated for injuries and released.

Police learned the vehicle was stolen, and contained a pistol and stolen possessions from a series of car break-ins, officials said.

About 4:10 a.m. Wednesday, the driver of the vehicle walked out of St. Louis University Hospital. Police have been searching for the man, 27, ever since, said Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole.