Carolyn Tuft, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 6, 1009
A murder victim in a home invasion had just gotten out of the hospital when she was dragged by her hair, at gunpoint, through the house to wake up family members and show the robbers where the family’s treasures were hidden, her uncle told the Post-Dispatch today.
One of the friends in the home was an off-duty policewoman, who didn’t have her gun. But when the two gunmen tried to herd the entire family into the basement of the home on Hickory Street, the policewoman fought back. In that struggle, the gunmen started firing. That’s when Gina Stallis, 34, was shot and killed. The cop and firefighter were seriously hurt by gunfire, and a teenage robber was shot in the hand.
While the struggle continued, Stallis’ mother, Rose Whitrock, ran out of the house and tried to get a neighbor to help but no one would, said Mark Whitrock, 50, of Wentzville, Stallis’ uncle. A neighbor woman came to her door, but refused to let Stallis’ mother use a phone to call police, Whitrock said.
The police officer, 27, who is not being identified by police, is in critical condition at a local hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Her boyfriend, a 29-year-old firefighter, is in stable condition at a hospital from a gunshot wound to the neck.
Because the family members were able to give police such a vivid description of the men, police quickly arrested the two suspects. The 16-year-old boy was arrested after being treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to his hand. His alleged accomplice was arrested in a car minutes later. Inside the car police found loot from the home where Stallis was killed, in the 900 block of Hickory Street.
The older suspect–Mario Coleman, 22, of the 5300 block of Cabanne Avenue–was charged Monday night with 12 felonies, including the murder of Stallis. He’s being held in jail on a $1 million, cash-only bail. The 16-year-old boy is in juvenile custody. Police won’t release his name unless he is charged as an adult.
Court records indicate that Coleman pleaded guilty to felony burglary and felony theft in 2007, but got a suspended imposition of sentence and placed on probation for three years. In 2008, court records indicate, Coleman pleaded guilty to a felony unlawful use of a weapon charge and, again, got a suspended execution of sentence and was placed on supervised probation. He got out of a “shock incarceration” ordered by a judge on April 11.
Whitrock said that the family had lived for “years and years” in the three-story house because they were very involved in the St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral across the street.
“Rose’s mother is the treasurer at St. Raymond’s,” Whitrock said. “Their church is their life.”
Whitrock says he thinks he knows why the family was targeted. “They have a very nice home and I think they are one of the only white families on that block,” he said.
Whitrock said there had been other problems with criminals at the Hickory Street family home. He said his brother, Stallis’ father, had parked a brand-new car out front a few years ago and someone lit a rag that had been put into the gas tank to try to blow it up. Stallis’ father died about two years ago.
Whitrock said his family is shaken by Monday’s deadly attack.