Bartender shot, killed in St. Louis

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ST. LOUIS -- Police had few new details Tuesday in the killing of a bartender during an attempted robbery at a popular downtown pub, but Chief Daniel Isom sought to ease concerns about violence in the city, saying it continues to be a "very safe" place.

Michael Dolan, 32, was fatally shot about 11:45 p.m. Monday at Maggie O'Brien's in western downtown St. Louis.

At a news conference, Isom said the killing was a great concern but atypical of robberies downtown. Isom said overall crime is down citywide but that robberies are up slightly. He said he is redeploying officers to address the matter and conducting a thorough investigation.

Meanwhile, police were trying to determine if another man shot to death a short time later was one of the suspected robbers.

Dolan and the other man died four minutes apart early Tuesday in separate hospitals in the city.

At Tuesday's news conference, police Capt. Michael Sack said two men in their late 20s or early 30s entered Maggie O'Brien's and ordered beer, but appeared suspicious as though they were casing the place.

They left, but returned a short time later with handguns and ordered the five people in the bar to lie on the floor. Dolan instead ran toward the kitchen, where he was followed by one of the suspects. The other suspect remained in the bar, his gun drawn, with the other four patrons and employees.

Those witnesses told police they heard gunshots in the rear of the establishment, and another single shot fired toward the back by the suspect who had held them in the bar, who then left. When it was safe to get up off the floor, they found Dolan injured and got him to Saint Louis University Hospital where he died in surgery.

Police said they recovered no guns and weren't aware of any money being taken.

Minutes after the incident at Maggie O'Brien's, a man who had been shot in the chest was dropped off at St. Louis Children's Hospital's emergency room by another man, who then fled in a burgundy vehicle. That shooting victim also died in surgery.

Sack said investigators are looking into whether the man shot in the chest and the man who dropped him off were the robbers. He said the two incidents might or might not be related, but the timing and the age of the person raised suspicions.

Maggie O'Brien's, which displays an Irish blessing on its website, was closed Tuesday. Sources told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Dolan had been a bartender there less than a year.

Isom emphasized that St. Louis is a "very safe" place. He said a triple homicide May 8 in west downtown was not random but involved people engaged in criminal activity who had just left a nightclub.

"The incident at Maggie O'Brien's is the kind we pray doesn't happen in the downtown," Isom said.

Isom has redeployed officers to have a greater presence in west downtown. He said he's also been working with the FBI and regional law enforcement for months on a safety plan for the upcoming baseball All Star Game in St. Louis.

New policing strategies have contributed to a 30 percent drop in overall crime in the city over the past 2 1/2 years, Isom said. Although homicides have risen in recent years, the city recorded 50 as of Tuesday compared with 65 at the same time last year.

"We're having an impact on crime," Isom said.

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