ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man was jailed Wednesday on suspicion of murder, armed criminal action, and sodomy in connection with a sexual assault and fatal shooting at a suburban St. Louis religious supplies store, apparently bringing an end to a manhunt that forced some schools, churches, and businesses to close.
Formal charges haven’t been filed, but several news outlets reported that the suspect was booked Wednesday into the St. Louis County jail. Police confirmed hours earlier that a “person of interest” was being questioned.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar scheduled a late-afternoon news conference.
The brazen crime in broad daylight left the region shaken.
Authorities say a gunman entered the Catholic Supply store near Ballwin on Monday afternoon, sexually assaulted at least one person inside and shot a 53-year-old customer, Jamie Schmidt, in the head. She died later at a hospital.
Police don’t believe that the gunman knew Schmidt and have declined to say if more than one person in the store was sexually assaulted.
The gunman fled after the shooting, apparently able to blend in along the heavily-congested street. Some nearby schools and churches shut down over the next two days as the attacker remained on the loose. Some businesses in the same strip mall as Catholic Supply also closed.
Police haven’t said if they believe the store was targeted because of its religious affiliation. Catholic Supply operates three stores in the St. Louis area.
Schmidt, of House Springs, Missouri, was a married mother of three who worked as an administrator at St. Louis Community College’s campus in Wildwood, Missouri. Two of her children are adults and the third is in high school.
Several members of her parish, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in High Ridge, gathered for a memorial service Tuesday to remember Schmidt, who sang in the church choir. A friend told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Schmidt may have been at the store to buy supplies to make rosaries for fellow parishioners.