Police search for religious supplies store attacker
BALLWIN, Mo. (AP) — Police on Tuesday were searching for a man who they say sexually assaulted someone in a suburban St. Louis religious supplies store and fatally shot a customer before fleeing.
Authorities identified the woman who was killed Monday at the Catholic Supply of St. Louis store as Jamie Schmidt, of House Springs. The 53-year-old mother of three was active in her parish and sang in the choir, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis County police were searching for a man described as 5-foot-7 with a heavy build. They say he wore an ivy hat, sometimes known as a newsboy hat, during the attack and that he should be considered armed and dangerous. Police were seeking the public’s help in finding him.
According to police, the armed man entered the store near the town of Ballwin on Monday afternoon and sexually assaulted someone before shooting Schmidt in the head. She died hours later at a hospital.
Police said they don’t believe the gunman knew Schmidt, but they haven’t discussed a possible motive for the attack or released some other information, including how many people were inside the store at the time, whether Schmidt was sexually assaulted and whether it happened to more than one person.
The crime stunned St. Louis’ large Catholic community. Archbishop Robert Carlson asked all parishes in the archdiocese to pray for the victims at services this weekend.
Schmidt, of House Springs, sang in the choir at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in High Ridge, the Post-Dispatch reported. A fellow parishioner said she may have been at the store to buy items for a project to crochet rosaries for others in the parish.
“She was very simple, very modest, very quiet,” Laura Sheldon said. “If you ever needed help, she would be there. That’s just the way Jamie was.”
The family was devastated, said Tim Schmidt, Jamie Schmidt’s brother-in-law.
“This is just senseless and heartbreaking,” Tim Schmidt said. “We are hoping that this person doesn’t hurt anyone else and is brought to justice.”
Jamie Schmidt and her husband, Gregg, were high school sweethearts who married in 1989, Tim Schmidt said. Two of their children are adults and one is still in high school.
Jamie Schmidt worked in administration at St. Louis Community College’s campus in Wildwood.