Three St. Louis teenagers have been charged with felonies in connection with shots fired at an auto dealership in unincorporated Fenton on Wednesday morning (Aug. 19), followed by a car chase that ended in Arnold, where two of the teens were apprehended. The third teen was found in the Fenton area not far from where the shots were fired, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced.
On Wednesday night, the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Theodore Mathias, 17; Damian Jones, 19; and Emyshual O’Toole, 19; with first-degree assault and first-degree burglary, both class B felonies; armed criminal action, an unclassified felony; and first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle, a class D felony. Mathias and Jones also were charged with resisting arrest, a class E felony, court records show.
A class B felony is punishable by five to 15 years in prison; a class D felony carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison; and a class E felony is punishable by up to four years in prison. Armed criminal action carries a penalty of at least three years in prison.
All three suspects were being held today (Aug. 20) in the Jefferson County Jail without bond.
The incident began at 4:48 a.m. when deputies were called to the Turtle Creek Apartments, 201 Turtle Drive, in unincorporated Fenton, where people reportedly were seen trying to break into vehicles on the parking lot. A patrol sergeant who was responding to the call saw men in the parking lot at BBC Motors, 1649 Springdale Blvd., which is near the apartment complex, the probable-cause statements in the case said.
Because the business was closed at the time, the deputy circled back to investigate why the men were there. As the deputy pulled into the business, he heard multiple gunshots, and the three men ran away, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Grant Bissell said.
Bissell said multiple shots were fired from at least two guns at a 58-year-old woman, who lives next to the auto dealership. A man accompanied the woman at about 5:15 a.m. when she left her home to investigate the noise, the report said.
The woman told investigators she confronted the suspects in the auto dealership’s parking lot, asking them why they were at the business, and she immediately heard gunshots. Then, the men ran away, according to probable-cause statements.
Bissell said it is not known how many of the suspects fired shots at the woman. She was not hit by the gunfire, but bullet holes were found in vehicles on the lot. Two bullets went through a wall of the woman’s home and hit items inside the house, the report said.
The noise the neighbor heard was glass breaking the auto dealership’s building. It appeared one of the teens kicked out a window, and at least one of the suspects entered the building and rummaged through numerous drawers, the probable-cause statements said.
Bissell said items were taken from the business but were recovered between the dealership and the apartment complex. He also said a gun was found in the same area.
After the teens ran away, Mathias and Jones returned to the apartment complex parking lot and got into a 2015 Toyota Camry and fled from the area. Deputies pursued the car, which was reported stolen from outside Jefferson County, Bissell said.
The Camry turned off Hwy. 141 onto Astra Way in Arnold. The two teens dove out of the Camry at a roundabout at the intersection, Bissell said.
Jones, who was driving the Camry, was unable to clear the car, though, and his foot was run over. The Camry came to a stop on its own in the roundabout, and it did not run into anything, Bissell said.
He said Jones was taken to an area hospital, where he was treated and released to the Sheriff’s Office, and Mathias was apprehended near the abandoned car.
Deputies found O’Toole walking along Hwy. 141 near Fiedler Lane, which about a quarter mile from the apartment complex and auto dealership, the probable-cause statements said.
O’Toole was “unable to provide a logical reason for being in the area,” and when he was taken to the dealership, the woman who was shot at said, “That’s one of them,” according the report.
Deputies searched O’Toole and allegedly found keys that belong to a 2013 Hyundai Sonata, which was found in the apartment complex parking lot. That car also was reported stolen from outside Jefferson County, the report said.
The teens not only are suspected of firing at the woman at the home near the dealership but also of trying to get into the vehicles at the apartment complex. It’s not known if anything was stolen from any of the vehicles, Bissell said Wednesday.
It was the second incident since October 2019 when a person suspected of trying to steal from unlocked vehicles in Jefferson County shot at someone. Terry Logan, 41, of Imperial was shot at three times on Oct. 18, 2019, when he confronted a would-be thief outside his home in the Summerfield Parkside Estates subdivision off Seckman Road near the Mastodon State Historic Site.
Surveillance footage showed Logan aiming his gun at the suspected thief, who was leaning into an SUV through an open passenger-side door. Logan could be heard ordering the man not to move and get on the ground.
However, the suspect ducked behind a pickup also parked in Logan’s driveway and made a “whoop” sound before firing three gunshots and then running from the house. After that, the suspect could be seen on the surveillance footage getting into an SUV that looked like a Toyota RAV4 that had been reported stolen out of St. Louis and leaving the scene with someone else driving.
Authorities were unable to locate the shooter, who was believed to be from St. Louis, Bissell said.
The Sheriff’s Office warns county residents that thieves are targeting Jefferson County neighborhoods and apartment complexes, looking for unlocked vehicles.
“It is an ongoing problem that we have faced multiple times,” Bissell said. “We have added patrols in areas where this has happened, and we have done everything proactively that we feel we can do.
“We ask people to lock their car doors, to take their keys with them and to take valuable items out of their vehicles, especially firearms. We know these guys are looking for (guns), and they are using them in later crimes.”