Missouri officer killed; suspect arrested

DELLWOOD, Mo. - A police officer was shot and killed in what authorities say was a cold-blooded ambush that triggered a four-hour standoff before the suspect surrendered.

Thomas Meek, 43, was charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder.

The standoff began after Sgt. Richard Eric Weinhold, 44, and three officers were called to a home in St. Louis County on Tuesday. A tenant said he was afraid to approach the house because the suspect was inside and had earlier pointed a shotgun at him.

Weinhold was hit by a shotgun blast shortly after the officers entered. His bulletproof vest couldn't save him, and he died later at a hospital

''As soon as the officer appeared, he let him have it,'' county police chief Ron Battelle said.

During the standoff, Maj. David Padlowski said two shots were fired, apparently from the basement. Police responded by firing tear gas, followed by two distraction devices, before the suspect gave himself up.

The other officers weren't injured. The shooting marks the second time in three months that a St. Louis-area police officer has been shot and killed in the line of duty.

Meek was jailed without bond. Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said his office was still weighing whether to pursue the death penalty but said there was evidence suggesting the crime was premeditated.

McCulloch said Meek has a long history of crimes in the St. Louis area, but did not say what those crimes were.


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