The night manager of a Drury Inn in St. Louis was shot to death during an early Thursday robbery attempt, one of the city’s seven homicides during a 24-hour span. Police quickly made three arrests in cases in which the victims reportedly knew their assailants.
Police Chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay condemned the violence at a Thursday afternoon news conference. They did not identify the suspects in custody, who will be formally charged Friday.
Scott Knopfel, 50, was shot in the head at the Drury hotel near Interstate 44 just before 3 a.m. after he struggled with his assailant while opening a cash drawer. Surveillance video shows the suspect, whom the manager mistook for a patron, entering the hotel and leaving less than 30 seconds later. He can be seen pulling out a handgun and vaulting a counter, then leaving the hotel in the same manner.
Seven homicides within 24 hours is an unusually high number for St. Louis, which has a population of about 320,000 people and recorded 159 homicides in 2014. Dotson and Slay linked the overnight violence to crime increases in the area documented since the fatal Ferguson police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown more than five months ago in north St. Louis County.
“To see this much violence going on in our city within such a short period of time, it is absolutely outrageous,” Slay said. “It’s out of hand. It disgusts me.” (Read more about the Ferguson violence upswing HERE)