St. Louis, MO – Police are actively searching for an “armed and dangerous” man who raped and shot a woman, and sexually assaulted others, inside a Catholic supply store on Monday afternoon.
A manhunt has been underway since about 3:30 p.m., after police responded to a Catholic supply store in a strip mall on Manchester Road, the St. Louis Post- Dispatch reported.
Police received a 911 call from a witness who said a man went into the store and ordered the women inside to strip at gunpoint.
The caller said the suspect had sexually assaulted several of the women inside the store before he shot one of the women in the head, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis County Police Sergeant Shawn McGuire told reporters at a press conference on Monday evening that he could confirm that at least one sexual assault had occurred inside the store, but he did not know how many victims there had been total.
Sgt. McGuire said police had no motive for the shooting and encouraged anyone with information to call 911.
The sergeant said the suspect did not know his victims.
"We have a loose, armed gunman out there who's already shot one person," he said.
Sgt. McGuire said that the woman who had been shot was “critically injured,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Witnesses described the suspect as a white male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a heavy build. He was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans, and a large belt, with a black or grey hat.
Police set up a perimeter and have been searching the area door-to-door. They do not know whether the suspect fled on foot or in a vehicle.
Catholic Supply of St. Louis, a privately owned business, is located in a shopping center in an unincorporated area near Queeny Park, on the north side of Manchester Road between Interstate 270 and Highway 141, WTTG reported.
Police asked citizens to avoid the area as the manhunt continued into the evening.
"Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy at Catholic Supply," Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said in a statement. "We are praying for these victims, especially the victim in critical condition at this time. We join with civil authorities asking for the community’s assistance in apprehending the culprit of this crime."
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