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Mentally Challenged Man Kills Teen Sister: "This Is Why Gun Control Is Important"

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slmpd.org
Police Chief Sam Dotson.
A twenty-year-old man shot and killed his fifteen-year-old sister yesterday in a shooting St. Louis Metropolitan Police are initially labeling accidental.

Authorities don't have many details to offer, but St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says there's at least one thing that's clear from the incident: We need more gun control.

"Today [police] responded to an unfortunate call," he says. "A mentally challenged man accidentally shot his sister. This is why gun control is important."

Here's the tweet in question:


Dotson has been a loud proponent of stricter gun policies since he first stepped up as chief in January.

Dotson, incidentally, attended a gun control rally at St. Louis City Hall the previous evening:


Police say the shooting happened yesterday afternoon at the 4600 block of San Francisco Avenue in the Penrose neighborhood. The suspect, brother of victim Alicia Anderson, was apparently found "in close proximity of the firearm and was detained pending further investigation."

The girl had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Post-Dispatch reports that the family had recently moved into the home and that the gun belonged to a friend of the family. It was allegedly hidden behind a dresser -- and spray-painted gold.

He may have thought it was a toy.

It's unclear what the suspect's mental disabilities may be -- or whether police will press charges.

Here's the full SLMPD incident report.

Incident: Homicide
Location: 4600 block of San Francisco
Date/Time: 8/22/13 @ 13:22
Victim: Alicia Anderson, 15-year old black female of the 4600 block of San Francisco
Suspect: 20-year old black male
Officers responded to a call for a shooting and upon arrival, located the victim lifeless. The suspect, who is the victim's brother, was found in close proximity of the firearm and was detained pending further investigation. The firearm was recovered. The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was pronounced deceased on the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

And from Dotson's blog, his full gun control remarks from the Wednesday night rally.

It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to keep silent on this issue, but it wouldn't be the right thing. As a police chief, nothing requires me to make public comments about controversial issues like gun control. Nothing except my conscience; which in this case, tells me that the message is far more important than any risk of political fallout or backlash.

Let me make one thing very clear from the beginning: just like most Americans, most Missourians, and most St. Louisans, I support the 2nd Amendment. I believe responsible citizens have a right to reasonable gun ownership for hunting, sporting and legitimate self-defense. I've always believed that.

But let me tell you something else I believe: we must be very careful when it comes to defining who is responsible and what is reasonable. And over the past 10 years or so, when it comes to guns and gun violence, I'm afraid we as a nation have been drifting away from both responsibility and reason.

Let me use an analogy to explain exactly what I mean. We all believe that people should have the right to go where they please, to travel freely from place to place, right? But that doesn't mean we let just anyone operate a 2,000 pound vehicle without first proving they can do so responsibly by obtaining a driver's license, an equipment safety inspection, insurance, etc. It also doesn't mean we let people drive on city streets in 200mph race cars or armored military vehicles that bear no relationship to their legitimate travel needs.

Well, what I believe about guns is not too different from what I believe about cars: people have a right to buy them and use them, but because both cars and guns have the potential to be dangerous, both rights should be subject to some minimal conditions. We expect people to reach a certain age before they drive, we expect them to pass a test and we expect them to submit proof of identity. If they have a condition which prevents them from driving safely, we don't let them drive. And even the best drivers aren't allowed to run around in Formula 1 race cars or Abrams tanks.

All I ask with respect to guns is that we start treating them with half as much caution as we treat cars. If people want to own a gun, they should be required to submit proof of identity and pass a basic background check. If people have a condition - such as a serious mental illness or a history of violence - which prevents them from using guns safely, we should not let them buy one. And because there is no reasonable use or need for such things, people should not be allowed to own extreme, military-grade armaments.

Simply put: I want to see a decent minimum level of precaution about who gains access to guns, along with a modest limit on the intensity of the firepower available. And by the way...here too, I find myself in agreement with most Americans, most Missourians, and most St. Louisans. Poll after poll has shown that background checks are a common sense policy supported by the vast majority of American, 90% in fact, all across the political spectrum.

Consider this amazing fact: Between 1982 and 2012, there were 62 mass shootings in the United States. 49 of them involved legally acquired weapons. Now think about how many of those attacks were committed by people with a prior history of mental illness, people who recently discussed attack plans or made threats, or engaged in a variety of other "red flag" behaviors. Think about how many lives we might have saved, just by preventing those. Think about what we owe to the people we failed to protect. Think about what we must do for those in the future who expect our protection, and deserve to get it.

Looking back at the history of gun violence, looking back at major incidents like ABB, Tucson, Aurora, Newton, looking at the school shooting in Georgia just this week, how can it be controversial to say: "We as a society should have done better. We as a society must do better now?"

Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be controversial to look at the current, unacceptable state of affairs and...simply accept it?

Well I don't accept it, and for me this isn't just a professional opinion, it's also a personal stand. I've seen too much since becoming a police officer. I think about all the homicides and the suicides a cop sees, most of them made possible by guns. I think about all the aggravated assaults - more than 8,000 with firearms in this city during the past five years. I also think about the close calls and the near-misses which don't always make the paper. I think about the man who attacked two of our officers with an AK-47. I think about the 15-year old who used a handgun to commit a carjacking last month. I think about more horror stories than anyone should have to know, and more than I have time to tell on this page.

What we want isn't controversial. What we want is just common sense. Even if we do nothing more than improve the background check process, we can all keep our rights and increase our safety. We don't have to choose between one and the other, and we don't have to accept the status quo.

We can do better.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


My Voice Nation Help
96 comments
tmichaels
tmichaels

As a 26 year law enforcement veteran, I respectfully disagree. I am guaranteed my right to own and bear arms under the 2nd amendment. Exactly as those we arrest are afforded their constitutionally protected rights under the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th amendments. 

Where in the Constitution of the United States or the Great State of Missouri is driving a "2000 lb car" a right? You used it as an analogy, now lets compare apples to apples. What exactly do you consider "extreme, military-grade armaments?" Are you referencing an AR-15? An AK-47? A .50 caliber? Since statistically, less than 4% of shootings occur with the dreaded "Assault Weapon", what do you suggest be done that would have the greatest effect? Ban handgun? Now you know that is what the majority of the shooting/aggravated assaults are committed with. 

While we're on the topic Chief, what is the demographics of your jurisdiction? I know. Who are involved in the majority of your shootings? Gang members, thugs, hoodlums. By and large, hands down, this is the single biggest problem you/we face. Admit it! Talk about it! Scream about it! Inner city black gang members/wannabe's! Why don't you talk about that. Because you are scared to because of your job security. I get it. If you were able to stem the crimes committed by that segment of the population, we would be enlightened by how little gun violence there is outside of these urban cesspools.   

melissarollins0315
melissarollins0315

So what gun control law would have stopped this from happening? A ban on spray painting guns? The mentally challenged man did not buy the gun. It belonged to a family friend. The gun was stored improperly. 


Seriously, can someone name one proposed gun control measure that would have prevented this from happening?

Dotson uses this tragedy to push for gun control. His solution is background checks on all gun sales and an "assault weapons" ban. The weapon in question was a pistol so an AWB would not of prevented it. The mentally disabled man did not buy the gun. Its not even clear in the article whether or not the gun was bought without a background check.

Stop using tragedies that could not be stopped by gun control as your reasons for pushing for gun control.

laxx1559
laxx1559

It seems like A LOT of the guns end up in the hands of people that shouldn't have them because they aren't secured properly.

jr23
jr23

how about doing something about the failed mental health system im sure your state had a institution that was closed so theirs no place to put ill people

jr23
jr23

how about doing something about the failed mental health system im sure your state had a institution that was closed so theirs no place to put ill people

Bill Jacobs
Bill Jacobs

natures way of thinning out the herd everyone should have guns

Janice Harrison
Janice Harrison

This is about owner negligence. I really do not enjoy pointing out that this was preventable with either a gun safe (if a person must have their fire arm loaded) or keeping the gun unloaded with the ammo separate and locked away. This poor girl's death is very sad.

David Eye
David Eye

stl police chief is a socialist prick, nothing to do with gun control, stupid liberal idiots,like Obama either stupid or have an agenda

mondaybuttercup
mondaybuttercup

@RiverfrontTimes... while terrible and surely a tragedy, I wish ppl would stop crying for gov to step in and save us from ourselves.

hawkmo99
hawkmo99

The gun was painted gold and looked like a toy...he didn't think it was real...OOOPS...guess we need more toy control... Oh...hey...a young man hit a girl with a  brick and killed her...guess we need more brick control... Oh...and on the national scene...two men beat WW2 veteran to death...with flashlights...damn...time for flashlight control... It gets pathetic when all people have left is blaming everything but the person responsible...and even worse.,..these people refuse to accept there are actually a thing called ACCIDENT...where there really is nobody responsible for a crime...there was simply a series of events that resulted in an unexpected outcome...an accident....

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

"the gun belonged to a friend of the family" - no amount of gun control short of complete banning would have changed this situation. The mentally challenged man did not purchase the gun. The Chief is making idiotic statements hoping no one with any decent capability in logic will listen and reply. Sorry to disappoint the Chief. Stop using tragic situations that gun control would not have prevented to promote gun control. When the Chief does things like this, people of reason stop listening to him at other times. 

If the Chief wants complete gun bans, he should just say it. Stop pretending that his oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution was given faithfully. Fraud and dishonesty.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

seems like your idea of gun control is that no private citizen should be able to posses a firearm. Leave it to the Police and Military to be responsible enough to carry them. Fortunately, it is a natural right to be able to protect yourself, and in the Bill of Rights, The peoples right to keep and bear arms is upheld. SCOTUS has ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, without association with a military or militia group, furthermore, they have also ruled that the police have no duty to provide safety at the individual level, only to a collective community. So, you tell me, without your legal right to own a firearm, how will you defend yourself from a criminal who refuses to turn in his gun(s) when you get the gun control dream of yours?

Greg Phillips
Greg Phillips

I'm sure I'm being repetitive but... why does a mentally challenged man have access to a loaded gun without supervision? And I'm no statistician but I'm pretty sure guns are fired more often with no injury than otherwise. So the control should be in HOW they're used.

Bobby Emily
Bobby Emily

nope i think the parents need to keep there crap put up.. especially if you have a handicapped kid running around

Devin BobaFett Butler
Devin BobaFett Butler

You can't punish America for what one person has done or even many people!why? Because no matter what majority of people who own a fire arm don't cause trouble wit it! Try an take away gun rights and were all screwed by the real threat a government stock piling ammunition for what ?

Charles Gru Randolph
Charles Gru Randolph

Ironically, it DOES. "To keep and bear arms" "Bear" means "to use" Dumbass.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

I read the article, it says there was a gold spray painted gun behind the dresser. The mentally challenged man should never have been able to gain access to a weapon, if he cannot decipher it from a toy. This was due to gun owner negligence. And yes, this even would be difficult to happen in my house. Guns that I may or may not own would be one of two places; locked in an 1100 pound safe, or in a holster on my person.

wetmouse
wetmouse

"A mentally challenged man" is a euphemism for "Tea Party/NRA Member."


Thanks NRA. We are all SO much safer with more guns out there. Putting guns before humans. Very classy and exactly what our society needs. How long before your child is murdered by a law-abiding gun-nut?

Bruce Erickson
Bruce Erickson

Way too many guns on our streets AND in our homes.

Ben Mansfield
Ben Mansfield

control as in putting it up where no one can get to it?

Bea Stout Pollard
Bea Stout Pollard

Did anyone actually read the story?....or better yet, were you in that house, know this young man, know anything about the whereabouts of this gun? Stop making up facts that suite your excuses. No one is taking away your gun because you certainly are smarter than this family (sarcasm) and this **accident** would never happen in your house....

Donny Biggerstaff
Donny Biggerstaff

This is why responsible gun ownership is important. I don't need the fucking government telling me how to keep my family safe.

Ed Lomax
Ed Lomax

This Dotson guy has seemed shady from the beginning........ Police state is coming.......

D.c. Small
D.c. Small

What's important is that the neighbor not leave his gun out in an exposed area near children/people with mental handicaps.

Keith Carr
Keith Carr

Disgusting for Chief Dotson to use this death to further his political aims. Thankfully the majority of police don't think like him.

Catherine Betz
Catherine Betz

Gun control doesn't mean nobody gets a gun. It means we put strict measures in place for the safety of the public. We do the same for our roads, too.

Quinn Taylor
Quinn Taylor

This is about personal responsibility and whoever owned this gun failed miserably. Punish them, not the rest of us that take gun ownership seriously and act responsibly.

bharris25
bharris25

I didn't realize you need a special permit to buy a corvette.. oh wait you don't.. Driving is not a right, it's a privilege granted when you get a drivers license. Owning a gun/the right to self defense, is an inalienable right grant by god and protected by the constitution. Not granted by the govt

Frank Motlik
Frank Motlik

Let's put the blame where it truly belongs... On the MORON parents that left a loaded and unsecured weapon laying around the house...! More Gun Control is no answer to fix blatant stupidity.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

of the guy. not the gun. blaming a gun for this is like blaming a car for getting a speeding ticket.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

First thing an un trained kid will do when picking up a gun is point it at someone and pull the trigger.. You can thank Hollywood for that, kids can learn gun safety at a very young age and realize it's a serious thing. Worst thing to do is hide your gun and hope they won't find it. Take em to the range instead. And have a safe.

Lin Staum
Lin Staum

Yeah, let's use the scare tactic of needed gun control, we need people not to leave guns in homes with children who are not taught to respect firearms. Why would you EVER leave a gun in a home with a mentally challenged person? WHY???

MuttonChopsRock
MuttonChopsRock

@staceynewman as he is the new chief of police in st. Louis id suggest he focus less on disarming the law abiding 1/2

Jason Lash
Jason Lash

that is not the topic of the story, that's a totally different story..

Denise Persohn
Denise Persohn

there is gun control but you can not control stupid ...question ...why the owners of the gun painted it gold??? and if you have someone 20 that is so mentally challenged he should be supervised all of the time...guns are not the problem when will people wise up people are the problem

Andrew D'Angelo
Andrew D'Angelo

THIS IS NOT ABOUT "GUN CONTROL". Its about pathetic excuses of adults being friends with criminals (he/she left the shotgun behind, why? Possibly been used in a crime and he/she is trying to stash it somewhere safe?)...or pathetic excuses of adults seriously not being aware of any safety breaches in their home, monitoring/supervising a special-needs adult (as well as a minor child) and insuring their safety. This isn't about gun control at all...its about so-called "adults" recklessly endangering the lives of "children" by allowing an unsecured lethal weapon to be easily accessed by said children. Technically, they can be charged with "involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, failure to properly secure a lethal weapon, and anything else I could come up with."

Melany Willis
Melany Willis

If we are going to enforce gun control because a child is accidentally shot than perhaps we should control swimming pools and automobiles, hell why not just sterile everyone......no children, no accidents!!

Anthony Merkel
Anthony Merkel

True true, but I was simply addressing the over all system as a whole, not one particular diagnosis!

Suzanne Lorenz Seibel
Suzanne Lorenz Seibel

True, because obviously guns are not being kept safely from criminals. And there are soooo many guns out there now it's like the proverbial closing the gate after the horse is out. Mental health checks are fine for those with known conditions, but many people "just snap" these days. I feel we are all walking around with a target on our backs.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

Anthony, I agree, although the story does not specify the mental condition of this man, it says "mentally challenged" leaving me to interpret this as some sort of mental retardation, not mental illness. There isn't much medication for someone with Downs Syndrome or Autism, except for Seizure control.

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