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3 teens charged in connection with Metro East mall shooting

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FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Three young men who police say are responsible for the shooting at the St. Clair Square shopping mall were charged on Friday.

Jeremiah T. Handy, 18, and Andre Gillespie, 19, both of East St. Louis, and Ronnie K. Edmonds, 18, of Cahokia Heights face felony charges from St. Clair County State's Attorney Jim Gomric's office.

One person, whose name has not been released, was struck by the gunfire and remains in stable condition at a St. Louis hospital, according to police.

Fairview Heights Police Chief Christopher Locke said after Thursday's shooting that the three suspects and their victim were all known to each other.

"It was a not a random attack," he said.

Through a press release Thursday afternoon, Fairview Heights police said officers were dispatched at about 4:18 p.m. to a call reporting that shots had been fired inside the mall.

Locke said the officers arrived "within seconds."

There was a heavy police presence and law enforcement began blocking off parking lot entrances around 5:30 p.m. The mall was closed for the remainder of the evening.

The victim was initially transported to a local hospital and later airlifted to a St. Louis hospital, Locke said.

"While officers were responding, witnesses alerted us to two suspicious individuals," he said.

Locke credited those witnesses with providing the information that led to the arrests of Handy and Edmonds near the scene Thursday. They later took Gillespie into custody, according to an updated news release issued Friday on the Fairview Heights Police Department's website.

Tristan Bergman, who works at the mall, described his experience hiding out inside his store. He called it "terrifying."

"Me and my coworker were just sitting, doing our usual thing and then we thought we heard gun shots," Bergman said. "We weren't really sure. The mall is always loud. But to be safe, we just locked the door and ran to the back and hid. Then we heard the helicopter and knew it was serious. We're just glad that we're OK."

Handy, 18, faces charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a valid FOID card, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and obstructing justice. He is being held at the St. Clair County Jail on $150,000 bond.

According to the charging documents, Handy had previously been tried as a juvenile for a burglary.

Edmonds, 18, was charged with obstructing justice, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a firearm without the required FOID card. His bond was set at $75,000.

According to the arrest warrant, Edmonds discarded a Taurus G2C 9mm handgun in the bathroom of Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, located at 6600 North Illinois St. near the entrance of the mall.

Gillespie, 19, was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and possession of a firearm without the required FOID card. His bond was set at $40,000.

Officers from Belleville, Caseyville, O'Fallon and Swansea police departments assisted at the scene, as did Illinois State Police and the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department.

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