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St. Louis County prosecutor seeks patience in shooting probe

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell on Tuesday urged patience during the investigation of a fatal officer-involved shooting that occurred near a large shopping mall.

A Richmond Heights, Missouri, police officer on Saturday killed 23-year-old Terry Tillman. The officer saw Tillman, who was black, inside the St. Louis Galleria carrying a gun. Concealed carry is legal in Missouri, but the mall prohibits weapons.

St. Louis County police said the officer told Tillman of the policy and Tillman ran outside. The officer chased him to a parking garage, where the man was shot.

It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the shooting. Police said a weapon was recovered but few other details have been released.

Prosecutor Wesley Bell said a “thorough and detailed” investigation is being conducted.

“In tragic cases like these, it is important to understand that the need to inform the public has to be balanced with ensuring the integrity of the investigation,” Bell said in a statement posted on his office’s website.

About 30 people protested the shooting Monday at the Galleria. Two protesters were arrested for blocking a street.

The officer involved in the shooting is 50 years old and a 23-year police veteran. Police have not disclosed his name or any other information about him.

Court records show that Tillman was wanted on an arrest warrant issued in February for failing to appear in court on a felony stealing charge. He allegedly tried to sell a stolen car.

Richmond Heights is just a few miles from Ferguson, the site of several massive protests after Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

The county prosecutor at the time, Bob McCulloch, drew criticism from some for failing to charge Wilson. Bell, a former Ferguson City Council member, defeated McCulloch in the August 2018 primary and was unopposed in the November 2018 general election. He became the county’s first-ever black prosecutor when he took office in January.

Jim Salter, The Associated Press