St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Police said Monday they have arrested a St. Louis man in connection with Sunday’s deadly shooting of a MetroLink security guard at the Delmar Loop station.
Police said they are seeking charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action against the 36-year-old suspect.
Bi-State Development Chief Executive Taulby Roach said the transit agency believed police have arrested the man responsible for killing security guard James Cook on Sunday morning.
“Despite, obviously, what a devastating and a tough day this is, we are at least bolstered by the news that an arrest has been made and we believe it is the correct arrest,” Roach said on Monday. “And we are hopeful that our partners at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will bring this to fruition and to justice.”
Cook, 30, who worked for a private security firm hired by MetroLink, died after being shot in the face Sunday morning while he worked at the Delmar station. He was shot at 10:03 a.m. in the 700 block of Hodiamont Avenue. Police said the killer may have had contact with Cook earlier Sunday morning while on a MetroLink train. Police had an unconfirmed report that Cook had contacted the man about sleeping on the train.
Cook, of Sullivan, Missouri, was married with two daughters, 5 and 9, his family said. He had served eight years as a U.S. Marine including a service in Afghanistan where he saw combat and a deployment to Africa. After military service, he worked other law enforcement jobs including as a jailer in Crawford County. His hobbies included hunting, woodworking and drawing.
Cook’s family told the Post-Dispatch he wasn’t concerned about his security on the job despite not being able to carry a gun.
A federal compact prohibits MetroLink security guards and contracted employees from carrying deadly weapons, Roach said. However, he said, the compact allows the transit agency to partner with regional law enforcement for security. Missouri state law also bars guards from having weapons.
“Our only option for armed authority on MetroLink is by partnering with our police departments, and of course we do that,” Roach said. “And we have moved to strengthen these partnerships and have done so in the cooperative security agreement.”
MetroLink security employees and contracted guards were allowed to carry guns for at least a decade prior to April 1 of last year, said Patti Beck, director of communications for Bi-State Development. The change in policy was part of new security measures and Bi-State’s contract with the private security firm G4S Security Solutions.
Bi-State developed the security plan relying on recommendations by a consultant for the East-West Gateway Council. Last February, Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler questioned a decision to no longer have armed MetroLink security guards; East-West Gateway’s consultant said the change was meant to leave firearms to the police after rider surveys showed their main request was for a more visible security presence.
On Monday, Franklin County Commissioner Tim Brinker, who sits on East-West Gateway’s board, told Prenzler, the board chairman, in an email that he wants to the board to discuss the no-firearms policy.
“I was not in favor of this proposal at its inception and remain opposed to unarmed security today. God only knows if the life of Officer Cook could have been saved by his lawful ability to carry a firearm to defend himself,” Brinker said in his email.
Bi-State’s security agreement with multiple law enforcement agencies, Roach said, “is helping us improve how security works on MetroLink. Despite this devastating setback, I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Roach said the transit agency will continue assess security on MetroLink and is already considering pairing up St. Louis County police officers with security guards to bolster patrols on the system.
“It’s a great idea, we’ve already done it some, but doing this in a more rigorous way is something we’ll be doing and implementing,” Roach said. “So we should always be tuning and looking at how security works and how it can be improved.”
Kim Bell and Mark Schlinkmann of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this report.
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