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Motive unclear in killing of 2 utility workers in St. Louis

Investigators are trying to determine what led a gunman to open fire on two utility workers in a residential neighborhood in St. Louis, killing both of them before fatally shooting himself. Police say the gunman walked up to the two men who worked for Laclede Gas Co. on Thursday morning and started shooting, then turned the gun on himself. “It does not appear words were exchanged,” police Capt. Mary Warnecke said. Both Laclede Gas and the electric company Ameren Missouri pulled workers from the streets for the rest of the day as a precaution.

Manyika McCoy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the workers were connecting gas service to a home she was moving into one was using a jackhammer and another was in a backhoe. She said she was at her mother’s house nearby when she saw a man walking purposefully down the street toward the workers.

“I heard pop, pop,” the 37-year-old McCoy said. The worker in the backhoe “was saying, ‘Wait, wait,’ and the guy just kept shooting at him,” she said. The worker eventually collapsed in the street, she said. The shooting around 11:15 a.m. on St. Louis’ western edge came two days after a man wanted in the slaying of a security guard gunned down three men, including a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. employee, in unprovoked attacks on the streets of downtown Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who is black, was arrested shortly after the rampage, and posts on what appeared to be his Facebook page discussed wanting to kill white people.

Police described the St. Louis shooter as black, and both victims as white, but there was no indication the shooting was racially motivated. Warnecke said police “have no motive at this point in the investigation.”

The names of the shooter and the men he killed have not been released. One of the slain workers was in his 20s and the other was in his 50s, authorities said.

“We are shocked and grieving today after two of our Laclede Gas employees were shot and killed this morning at one of our job sites,” Laclede Gas said in a statement. “We are connecting with their loved ones now. And, we are working with police to understand more about this crisis. We are heartbroken, as you can imagine, and ask that you hold these employees, their families, their friends, Laclede Gas workers and our communities in your thoughts and prayers.”

Laclede, a natural gas distribution utility that serves the St. Louis area and portions of southeast Missouri, said it pulled all nonemergency workers from the streets for the rest of the day as a precaution. Ameren Missouri Senior Vice President Mark Birk also cited precaution in that utility’s decision to bring in all crews working in St. Louis to an operations center. St. Louis has one of the nation’s highest homicide rates. The city recorded 188 killings in both 2015 and 2016 and had 45 this year through April 18, according to police statistics. New Mayor Lyda Krewson has said creating a safer city is among her top priorities. On Wednesday, her first full day in office, she announced that Police Chief Sam Dotson was retiring, though he will stay on as a consultant for one year.

Man who killed 3 in Maryland expected to take plea

A man charged with fatally shooting his estranged wife and two other people in Maryland is expected to plead guilty to killing the two strangers. The Washington Post reports (http://wapo.st/2pGvT5y ) 63-year-old Eulalio Tordil is due for a plea hearing Tuesday in court in Maryland’s Montgomery County and court documents indicate he intends to take a guilty plea. The agreement is not considered final until a judge accepts the deal, and Tordil could still back out. Tordil still faces charges in Prince George’s County, where he is charged with killing his estranged wife.

Authorities say Tordil, a federal security officer, killed his wife on May 5 of last year, then fatally shot the two other people the following day during apparent carjacking attempts.

Suspect in Calif. triple killing says he hates whites

All three victims in Tuesday’s killings were white. The police chief says they were shot minutes apart in close proximity in areas around downtown.

The Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. A man shot and killed three people on the streets of downtown Fresno on Tuesday, shouting “God is great” in Arabic during at least one of the slayings and later telling police that he hates white people, authorities said. Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, was arrested shortly after the rampage, whose victims were all white, police said. He also was wanted in connection with another killing days earlier, in which a security guard was gunned down at a Fresno motel after responding to a disturbance. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the victims were shot minutes apart in close proximity in areas around downtown. He said Muhammad made other statements to police but he did not disclose them.

The shooting happened outside a Catholic Charities building, but spokeswoman Teresa Dominguez said the charity doesn’t believe the suspect was tied to the nonprofit organization.

Sayed Ali Ghazvini, imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, said Muhammad was not a member of his congregation and he did not recognize him. The imam said he is consulting with other faith leaders.

“We’re kind of shocked and surprised for what happened,” Ghazvini said. “We are very sorry for this to happen. We offer condolences for the victims, we pray for the victims and their families.”

Following the shooting, Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff said county offices were placed on lockdown, and people were urged to shelter in place.

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