ST. LOUIS (AP) — The man charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a St. Louis police officer has a long history of violent crime and missed a court appearance last month in Florida, where he is accused of false imprisonment and sexual battery.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced charges against Thomas Kinworthy Jr., 43, in the death of 29-year-old Officer Tamarris L. Bohannon. Kinworthy is jailed at the St. Louis City Justice Center.
Bohannon responded to a call Saturday afternoon after an armed man ordered a family out of their home and barricaded himself inside. Officers were searching for another reported shooting victim when Bohannon was shot in the head and a second officer was struck in the leg, Chief John Hayden said.
Bohannon died Sunday. The second officer, 30, is expected to recover. They were the seventh and eighth St. Louis officers shot since June. Bohannon was Black, as is his colleague who was shot.
Kinworthy, who is white, has a criminal record dating to the 1990s, when he spent nine months in prison for a drug crime in St. Louis County.
Court records show that Kinworthy was convicted in a 1998 road rage incident in Brevard County, Florida. After the car Kinworthy was in rammed a Ford Mustang, Kinworthy shot the Mustang driver, causing him to lose three fingers. Kinworthy was convicted in 2001 and served six years in prison.
Brevard County court records show that Kinworthy was facing charges again in Brevard County, this time for sexual battery, false imprisonment and other counts. He was accused of allegedly choking a man inside a home, holding him against his will, and trying to sexually assault him in August 2019.
Kinworthy was arrested after the investigation was completed in January, when he also was charged with being a felon in possession of firearms after several guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition were allegedly found in his car.
Kinworthy was due in court in Brevard County last month but failed to show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to court records and a spokesman for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
It wasn't clear when Kinworthy arrived in Missouri.
Bohannon, known by those close to him as “Bo,” had been with the department 3 1/2 years. He was “a hero to many, but most importantly to his loving wife and three incredible children,” read a note from his family posted on the police department Twitter page.
Mayor Lyda Krewson called Bohannon's death a “horrific reminder of the dangers our brave men and women in law enforcement willingly and selflessly face everyday to protect and serve.”
The two officers were among several who responded to a call around 6 p.m. Saturday near Tower Grove Park. Homeowners Mimi and Steve Haag had dialed 911 to get help for a man who had been shot when the gunman walked into their home, they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I saw then he had a gun,” Steve Haag said. “He was very calm standing there with it in his hand and he just says to Mimi: ‘Ma’am you need to get off the phone.’” The Haags escaped unharmed through the back door.
The officers were “trying to do their job, that’s all they’re trying to do and they’re suffering under gunfire,” Hayden said.
The gunman remained barricaded as officers armed with rifles and a SWAT team assembled outside. Police used a bullhorn to order the suspect out and fired tear gas into the house but no gunshots, the department said. The standoff ended around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, nearly 12 hours after it began, when Kinworthy was arrested. The other man who was reportedly shot was never found.
This year has been especially dangerous in St. Louis for residents and police alike. The rate of killings in 2020 is on a near-record pace, and non-fatal shootings have spiked too. The worst of the crime surge has happened since June. Things are so dire that the federal government in early August sent 50 agents to battle crime.
Six other officers have been shot in addition to Bohannon and his colleague, including four struck during a violent June 1 protest that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Two of those officers were shot in the leg, one in the foot and one in the arm.
An officer was shot by a suspect with a sawed-off shotgun on July 26. Another was shot by a teenager on Aug. 2.
Among those officers, only Bohannon died.