Maryland Heights, MO—A gunman shot a woman and then exchanged gunfire with a police officer at a Maryland Heights Community Center Monday night.
The shooting occurred just before 8:15 pm.
In an announcement on Monday night, Police Chief Bill Carson said that 45-year-old Maria Lucas, the on-duty supervisor and city employee, was at the front desk of the community center. A man confronted Lucas and then shot her in the head.
She was pronounced dead on the scene when firefighters arrived.
After shooting the woman, the gunman continued to pace around the reception area with his gun still in hand. Carson said, “We don’t know his intentions after the shooting.”
After Lucas was shot, another woman ran outside of the facility to the parking lot to locate a Maryland Heights police officer.
The officer had already been at the center earlier to fill out a police report. He was in full uniform at the time.
When the officer entered the building, the suspect opened fire. The officer returned fire, hitting the suspect several times.
The gunman and the officer continued to exchange gunfire. Eventually, the officer incapacitated the shooter. The gunman’s shots didn’t harm the officer.
“I believe the action of our police officer was quite heroic,” said Carson. “He immediately went inside the community center and confronted the gunman.”
At the time of the shooting, there were around 150 people inside the community center.
Paramedics took the gunman to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.
The gunman was a 30-year-old, part-time janitor at the center. Apparently he was upset after a supervisor sent him home from work. Police have not released his name. The man had worked for the city for three years and was on the payroll.
Surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and detectives have been going through the video. The community center will remain closed until further notice, according to the city of Maryland Heights.
News 4 interviewed a witness who said she was at the facility when she heard gunshots. “We heard about five to six shots go off and we all started running toward the closest fitness room and dispersed throughout the closets,” she said.
“They asked us to go around and hide somewhere. The guy came inside and started shooting. I saw the exit and I came outside. But our friends are still inside,” said another witness.