(KPLR) -Two men are hospitalized after a three week federal investigation ended with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents, opening fire on suspects. It happened about 11:20am Wednesday at Iron and Grand, near Carondolet Park in south St. Louis.
There are plenty of questions surrounding what happened, but witnesses agree it began with a bang.
“It sounded like thunder,” Tramell Dean said. “I jumped up. It sounded like Jesus was coming back.”
Another neighbor, Mike Grime said, I heard this big boom like a car accident.”
There was a crash, but it appears it was no accident. What appears to be a power repair truck smashed into the suspects’ car, but another witness, Dwayne Dorsey, says he saw something he didn’t expect after the crash. Federal agents jumping out of that power truck, attempting to apprehend the suspects. The truck appears to have been an undercover decoy.
“The truck hit the car then I saw the doors open on the car, the guys jumped out the car and started running. I heard a few shots. The officers returned fire and the two wound up shot,” Dorsey said.
He tells FOX 2 he believes the suspects were shooting at federal agents. That’s something the ATF would not confirm Wednesday, citing an ongoing investigation into the case by St. Louis police. But they did say the suspects were using their car as a weapon.
“They attempted to flee and use their vehicle to run over agents and officers,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Marino Vidoli told reporters at the scene. “One ATF agent fired his weapon to protect his life and the lives of others around him. As a result two individuals were shot.”
Vidoli says their investigation into these men had gone on for three weeks. St. Louis police were involved as well. There were five suspects in all, the two who were shot, and three others who are now in custody. Agents say they were planning an armed robbery.
“ATF agents and the St. Louis police department did their jobs today. These are very dangerous individuals that intended to do serious harm,” Vidoli said.
But this appears to be more than a run of the mill robbery. Agents say they had a medical team with them at the scene when the shooting happened. That’s how the suspects were treated immediately.
They had that unusual undercover vehicle, a utility truck, at their disposal, and they were swooping in on these alleged robbers before the robbery happened.
On top of it all, the man in charge, Vidoli, whose office is in Kansas City, was apparently in town for the operation. He only made a statement to reporters, taking no questions.
The suspects were not immediately identified. One was listed in “critical and unstable” condition by agents. The second man shot was said to be in stable condition. A third man was also hospitalized for precautionary reasons according to the ATF.
No agents or officers were injured in the operation.