Man Allegedly Held Women Hostage in Catholic Store, and Murdered One of Them

Authorities announced charges Wednesday against the man who allegedly held three women hostage at a Catholic store in St. Louis, Missouri, committed sexual assault, and killed one of the victims. Thomas Bruce, 53, was charged with first-degree murder, three counts of sodomy, three counts of kidnapping, burglary, tampering with evidence, and eight counts of armed criminal action. Cops say he fatally shot Jamie Schmidt, also 53.

Schmidt’s family is using GoFundMe to raise money for the funeral.

Robert P. McCulloch, prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, told reporters that the suspect came in pretending to be a customer, left ostensibly to get a credit card, but returned to force victims into a backroom.

The tempering charge stems from the defendant attempting to get rid of clothing, McCullough said. He explained that it was too early to decide if authorities will pursue the death penalty, but pointed out that the aggravating circumstances were present in this case. He said he couldn’t provide an answer before the year of the year, and said his successor will make that decision. (McCulloch, a Democrat, lost a primary challenge in August to 43-year-old Wesley Bell, who will take office in January)

The prosecutor largely declined to offer a specific motive.

“I have no idea,” he said, but a reporter later asked why the shooter targeted a Catholic store. McCullough suggested that it might have had something to do with finding three women in a store.

“It seems to me that a guy like this saw an opportunity,” he said.

He said the investigation was ongoing. The suspect had no apparent criminal record, McCullough said. There was no apparent indication that Bruce was in the store before, and no evidence at this point that he knew the victims, the prosecutor said.

It’s unclear if Bruce has an attorney in this matter.

[Mugshot via St. Louis County Police Department]

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