Police: Gunman Shot 3, Self at St. Louis Business

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Abdi Salam Elmi, an immigrant from Somalia who drives a cab in St. Louis, said he was close to all four of the dead in Thursday’s shooting. He described them as hardworking, friendly people.

“They always smile for me. This is my worst day in my life. It’s a very, very sad day for us and a very sad day for the city of St. Louis.”

St. Louis has long struggled with urban violence, but the last week has seen a troublesome uptick in bloodshed. Police scrambled late Monday and early Tuesday to respond to five different shootings on the city’s north side that left 15 people wounded.

Elmi said as a cab driver he sees too much violence in the city and he’s concerned about the recent shootings. “I feel the same as I did when I left Somalia,” he said, referring to the war-torn African country.

Meant to be a nurturer of startup businesses, the Cherokee Place Business Incubator dates back at least a decade in a once-thriving business section about a five minutes’ drive from downtown.

Big retailers later shifted to the suburbs. But that part of town, which has a strong Latino flair, has regained solid footing. New street lighting complimenting welcomed police responsiveness has helped make it safe, according to Jason Deem, a board member and former president of the Cherokee Street Business Association.

Deem called Thursday’s bloodshed “a very unfortunate situation for Cherokee” but not reflective of the area as a whole.

“It’s not like this type of thing goes on down here. This is very much a shock to us,” he said. “Everything police are telling us leads us to believe it was a targeted incident and not some random act of violence.”

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