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Police fatally shoot driver in I-55 chase; incident may be related to sex offender warning

FESTUS, Mo. - Law enforcement confirmed officers shot and killed a suspect Friday afternoon along the west side of Interstate 55.

The suspect’s car had crashed into the garage of a home in the 1100 block of Alexander Drive. His body was still in that garage.

According to police, the suspect was shooting at officers. Six of them returned fire, killing him. Four were identified as Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies, an officer from the Herculaneum Police Department, and a Festus police officer.

The incident began in Herculaneum around 1:00 p.m., when an officer stopped a car matching the description of that of a sex offender who had reportedly been hanging around school in the Dunklin School District, waving at students and trying to lure them to his car.

The officer ordered the driver to exit the vehicle, but the driver refused. The officer attempted to physically remove the driver, at which point the driver sped off, dragging the officer.

Police pursued the vehicle on northbound I-55 and then southbound to Festus, with the suspect shooting at officers along the way.

Police did not confirm the man’s identity, but said he may have come here because a past relative through marriage lives here. No one else was seriously injured. The officers who opened fire were placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation.

The suspect's name has not been released, pending notification of family members.

School administrators in Herculaneum said the suspect in the chase may be the same man police were looking for after receiving reports that he was trying to get children into his vehicle. The Dunklin R-5 School District sent out a message to parents saying there’s no longer an immediate reason for concern.

"We have an update on the suspicious man that was waiving at a group of students off-campus. There is no longer an immediate reason for concern, we still encourage students to travel in groups or with a friend for overall safety. This also serves as a reminder for all of us to always be aware of our surroundings. Thank you."

The Herculaneum Police Department and Dunklin R-5 school District blasted alerts to the community via Facebook and phone calls Thursday that a strange man, possibly an unregistered sex offender, was waving at children from his vehicle and trying to entice children into his car using a puppy. The school superintendent said the reported incident happened along Joachim Golf Course.

They wanted to make parents aware without inciting panic. Parents said they felt relieved knowing the threat had ended.

“Lots of police presence between Herculaneum and Pevely," said Heidi Tucker. "Last night, we noticed that police were really out and it made us feel like we were safer because we knew they were looking for this guy. You don’t mess around with small towns."