More Gun Crimes Go Federal in St. Louis

Kevin Killeen
February 08, 2018 - 3:02 pm
police lights shine behind crime scene tape

Kenneth Paul |


ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The number of gun cases going to federal court in St. Louis - instead of state court - more than doubled in January.

U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen reports 110 gun defendants charged in January, compared to 45 the same time last year.

"I really don't think the number of prosecutions is a worthwhile number," Jensen said. "The goal is to reduce the murder rate, and the number of prosecutions it takes to get there is what we'll do."

For the year, murders are up. There were 15 killings in St. Louis last January compared to 18 this January.

Most of the gun charges here this year are "felon in possession of a gun" cases, which can carry a sentence of 2 to 10 years.

Federal gun sentences are generally longer than state court sentences, and federal gun defendants are also less likely to get released on bond while awaiting trial.

Jensen says he's working closely with new St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden to prosecute cases from within a target area called "Hayden's Rectangle," where 67 percent of all city murders occurred last year.

Prosecution is just part of the solution, Jensen says. He's also working with community support groups - Better Family LIfe, Father Support, Demetrius Johnson Foundation, the Urban League - and with police chaplains who attend funerals of murder victims in the city.