ST. LOUIS • The city’s top prosecutor spoke Wednesday about the pain of murder victims’ loved ones by gathering several in a particularly grim spot: the window in the medical examiners’ office where next-of-kin go to identify their dead.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce was joined by the medical examiner, Dr. Michael Graham, and relatives of three shooting victims to call attention to gun crimes that have claimed some 800 lives in the city since 2010. Most of this year’s more than 60 homicide victims died in shootings.
“We are losing lives at an alarming rate through gun violence,” Joyce said. “It’s unacceptable. No parent or loved should ever have to … suffer that kind of horrible pain, but it happens, and it happens on an almost daily basis.”
Rose Whitrock, mother of Gina Stallis, who was 34 when she was fatally shot in a 2009 home invasion in the LaSalle Park neighborhood, said she is thankful for how Joyce’s office has supported victims families through the grieving process. One of the men convicted in the crime is serving life without parole; the other gunman won’t be eligible for parole for more than 50 years.
“I think I say every time that the pain is just indescribable for myself, but I’m raising (Stallis’) two children, and I can’t even imagine what their pain is like,” Whitrock said. “I just want everybody to know that this can happen to anybody. It doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make or what you do for a living. These people with these guns, they’re just violent.”
The other purpose of Wednesday’s gathering at the morgue was to announce the launch of a new website — created by the city prosecutor’s office — to provide data on gun crimes and court cases, and access to resources. The site features video stories from victims, ex-convicts and volunteers working through nonprofits and outreach organizations to influence people in the city’s most at-risk neighborhoods. It also provides information about ways people can offer help.
“This is not somebody else’s issue,” Graham said. “This isn’t a city of St. Louis issue. And it is not a law enforcement issue alone. It’s not a medical issue alone. It’s a community issue, and that’s the only way it’s going to be solved.”
The new website is at www.stlouisguncrime.com.
Joel Currier • 314-340-8256
@joelcurrier on Twitter