Former Missouri star dies

Ernest Blackwell dies after violent altercation with police.
Friday, August 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:09 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Ernest Blackwell a standout on the Missouri football team in 1997, shot his stepdaughter and attacked neighbors, then died after struggling with police, authorities said Thursday.

Blackwell, 29, of St. Louis County, died Wednesday night. An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday. Results were not yet known.

Police didn’t know a motive for the attack.

“There really is no logical reason for any of this,” St. Louis County police spokesman Rick Eckhard said.

Officers used several means to try to subdue Blackwell, including shooting him twice with a Taser, which delivers an electrical jolt, during a 10-minute struggle. Paramedics eventually sedated Blackwell, who was 6 feet 3 and weighed 230 pounds when he played for the Tigers, and put him in an ambulance. He died on the way to the hospital.

Blackwell was a running back at Missouri and was part of the team that ended a 13-year string of losing seasons in 1997, earning a berth in the Holiday Bowl. The Kansa City Chiefs picked him in the seventh round of the 1998 draft, but he was cut during the preseason.

Corby Jones, the quarterback on the team that ended the bowl drought, said Blackwell was the most talented player he has seen. But he said Blackwell had few friends on the team.

“Ernest kind of kept to himself,” Jones said. “He didn’t have any enemies, but he was not a guy who socialized much.”

St. Louis County Police Chief Jerry Lee defended his officers.

“I am proud of these officers for their courageous and selfless actions,” Lee said. “I knew from talking with the officers involved on scene that this was a very intense and prolonged struggle to make the arrest. I commend them for their appropriate and timely response.”

Blackwell’s 9-year-old stepdaughter and two neighbors, a 14-year-old girl and her mother, suffered serious injuries and were in intensive care. Four police officers were also treated for injuries.

Police were initially called to the scene for a traffic hazard when an officer learned of the disturbance. He went inside a home to find the 14-year-old girl bleeding and injured, and police said he heard Blackwell attacking the girl’s mother.

Blackwell tackled the officer and tried to take his gun, police said. The officer was able to hit an alarm alerting other officers, who arrived to help.

Police said they used a Taser and sedatives after Blackwell continued to resist arrest. Blackwell was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Officers later learned that Blackwell had earlier used a shotgun inside his own home and shot his stepdaughter in the chest, before going two houses down and attacking the 14-year-old and her mother.

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