East St. Louis mother killed two children, fled, say police — (stltoday)

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Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 9:30 am |

EAST ST. LOUIS • An East St. Louis woman was in custody after she allegedly fatally shot her two youngest children Wednesday evening, then drove to downtown St. Louis, where she was caught after hitting three pedestrians, police and relatives said.

An arrest record Thursday morning identified the woman as Yokeia Smith, 25. Relatives identified her as Yakia Smith. She was being held by St. Louis police.

East St. Louis police Capt. Bobby Cole said authorities received a call about a shooting in the 3000 block of Lincoln Avenue at 6:03 p.m. When police arrived, they found the children, ages 4 and 5, dead in a room in an apartment there.

Police did not release the genders of the victims but relatives said the younger child was a girl and the older one a boy.

Smith had fled the scene before police arrived.

Cole said no motive had been determined for the shootings.

“We don’t have a clue why,” he said. “Until we go speak with the lady, we won’t know anything.”

Relatives of Smith also said they had no potential explanation for the slayings of the children.

“I don’t know why the babies are dead,” said a cousin, Virginia Brown.

Brown did say that Smith had recently been prescribed medication to treat depression or some sort of mental illness.

Lt. James Morrisey of the Illinois State Police said state child-services workers have had dealings with the family in the past, but he declined to discuss a motive for the killings. The State Police and the East St. Louis police are handling the case together.

Brown, a cousin of Smith, said she had just returned home from work when a man on a bike told her a woman around the corner had killed two children. She didn’t think it was Smith, but she went to check out the scene anyway.

Hours after the shootings, Brown and other relatives stood about 200 feet from the apartment where Smith lived remembering her playful, happy children.

They said that in addition to the two children who were killed, Smith had an 8-year-old son who was unharmed.

The apartment where the family lives is in a multi-unit building. It was cordoned off by crime scene tape late Wednesday.

In addition to East St. Louis police, officers from the Illinois State Police, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene.

In St. Louis, Smith was allegedly driving a car that struck three pedestrians on Market Street near Memorial Drive about 6:40 p.m. All three were transported to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Laura Bluedorn of KMOV-TV was near the scene when the pedestrians were struck. She said she was loading her truck when she heard a “thud.” She looked up in time to see that a man and a boy she said was his son were airborne. She said she was told the two were visiting St. Louis from Iowa.

“They were conscious and breathing,” she said. “The kid had a goose egg on his head, and the dad said he had hip and leg pain.”

Bluedorn said she saw an older-model, two-door Saturn stop after hitting the pedestrians.

When police arrived on the scene, a witness told them that a woman was crouched between two TV news vehicles holding a shotgun. Police say that woman was Smith. She was taken into custody there.

Morrisey said St. Louis authorities likely would seek charges Thursday against Smith for the crash and weapon possession. Illinois investigators would then present their case for the murders to the St. Clair County state’s attorney on Friday, he said.

Patrick M. O’Connell and Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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