ST. LOUIS — Police suspected Carlos Boles, with a criminal history dating back nearly two decades, would be trouble when they went to arrest him on charges that he assaulted a law enforcer and possessed drugs, so they enlisted federal marshals for backup.
When the law enforcers converged Tuesday morning on Boles' St. Louis home in a struggling neighborhood, things went horribly wrong: Boles, authorities say, opened fire, fatally wounding Deputy U.S. Marshal John Perry with a shot to the head and wounding another marshal and a city police officer before being killed in the exchange of bullets.
The U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement that John Perry — a federal marshal for nearly a decade — died at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Saint Louis University Hospital, some 12 hours after the shooting. Relatives of Perry, 48, spent much of the day flocking to his hospital bedside as he clung to life in critical condition.
"Our people and our partners are well trained and prepared, but it is impossible to predict when a wanted individual will make a fateful choice that results in the loss of life or injury," said Stacia Hylton, director of the U.S. Marshals Service. "When that happens, and the life lost is a law enforcement officer or other public servant, it is an immeasurable tragedy felt by all. Today, unfortunately, we again feel that pain."
Another deputy marshal — identified by the agency as 31-year-old Theodore Abegg, a three-year veteran — was shot in an ankle. A bullet grazed an unidentified police officer's face, sending him toppling down stairs in the two-story home during the violent confrontation shortly before 7 a.m. local time in what Mayor Francis Slay cast as "a tragic example of what our law enforcement officers go through, the risks they take."
Police apparently considered Boles, 35, risky, saying they called upon the U.S. Marshals Service for added muscle in taking in Boles, figuring he might be a threat.
When the law enforcers showed up at Boles' home, three children belonging to the suspect's sister were allowed to leave the house before the officers went in, according to a police account. During a floor-by-floor search, police spotted Boles on the second floor, and he started blasting, police said.
Television footage soon showed one marshal being carried down an alley by several officers and then hustled into an ambulance.
"Our hearts, our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers and their family members right now," St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom told reporters hours later during a briefing in the atrium of the hospital where the marshals were being treated.
Boles' criminal record in St. Louis stretched back to 1992, when he was charged with first-degree assault at the age of 16, according to court records and the U.S. Marshals Service. He pleaded guilty in early 1993 and served four months of a 10-year prison sentence just after his 17th birthday.
Boles went to prison again in 2005, serving four months of a 10-year prison sentence for felony charges of marijuana possession. He was on probation until 2008 in that case.
In October, Boles was walking down a street when police officers began following him, according to a probable cause statement. They tried to arrest him after seeing him throw a pill bottle, but Boles resisted, punched an officer in the neck and threatened police before being subdued by a stun gun, the statement said.
The pill bottle contained heroin, cocaine and an anti-anxiety medication called alprazolam, the probable cause statement said.
A warrant was issued for Bole's arrest Jan. 11.
For hours after Tuesday's gunfire, dozens of spectators gathered just beyond yellow police tape cordoning off the street in front of Boles' home, braving cold rain as police in tactical gear scoured the home and then cleared the way for FBI crime-scene technicians.
As police began to disband, bystanders began shouting obscenities at them. Some officers used police dogs to keep the angry spectators at a distance.
"Everyone is in a complete uproar right now," said Tony Johnson, 22, who lives nearby. "I don't blame the neighborhood for the tension right now."