A US Marshal was shot Monday morning while serving a search warrant in the north St. Louis County municipality of Bellfontaine Neighbors. He was shot in the chest, but a bulletproof vest stopped the bullet. The officer was brought to a hospital for observation and said to be doing “ok.”
Officers with the Fugitive Task Force were serving the warrant at a home in the 10300 block of Durness around 10 a.m. Monday. The suspect was wanted for first-degree assault and second-degree domestic assault. The US Marshals Service said the suspect fired shots at the officers when they exited their vehicles. The US Marshals then returned fire.
St. Louis County police, Bellefontaine police, and the US Marshals engaged in a standoff with the man. Police evacuated nearby homes as worried neighbors watched from a safe distance.
The marshal who was shot has been identified as a 32-year-old St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy who was working with the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force at the time. He had 10 years of experience as a sheriff’s deputy.
Sgt. Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, said investigators were examining the marshal’s vest.
“He was struck. We’re looking into what actually struck him, he felt like he was shot,” McGuire said. “So that’s all under investigation. We have to look at the evidence and look at his vest…He was struck by something. We don’t know what it was at this point.”
All the events took place in the driveway underneath the carport.
“There was a lot of cars in the way. Six or seven cars in the way,” McGuire said. “There was a lot of debris, there was a carport that created a shadow, it was tough to see in the carport so there was as a lot of factors that officers had to deal with once they were in that gun battle.”
As the county SWAT team searched the residence, they discovered the body of the suspect, identified as 40-year-old William Watson Jr. Authorities recorded a firearm from the scene.
Sgt. McGuire said the preliminary investigation has led them to believe the gunshot wound that took Watson’s life was not self-inflicted.
Family members were frustrated because they heard a neighbor’s account, which contradicts what police had told them.
“I believe my brother shot back. I believe my neighbor is not lying; that these police showed up shooting in unmarked cars,” said Jennifer Watson, the suspect’s sister. “That is what I believe. That is what I truly believe.”
BY Erika Tallan and Joe Millitzer | KTVI