Police make arrest in killing, sex assault at St. Louis Catholic Supply store

https://abcnews.go.com/US/police-make-arrest-killing-sex-assault-st-louis/story?id=59315307

A Missouri man was arrested in connection with a heinous crime spree at a Catholic Supply chain store in St. Louis in which a female customer was fatally shot and at least one other woman was sexually assaulted, officials said.

Thomas Bruce, 53, is now in police custody on 14 charges including first-degree murder, sodomy, kidnapping, burglary, tampering with evidence and armed criminal action, according to the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney.

Bruce entered the store on the west side of St. Louis shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday posing as a customer, left to get a credit card and then returned, displayed a handgun and forced everyone into a back room, police said in a press release.

He ordered the three victims to the back room where he forced them to disrobe at gunpoint, according to a press release from St. Louis County Police. Bruce then allegedly exposed his genitals and demanded each of the victims perform sexual acts on him, police said.

PHOTO: Thomas Bruce in an undated photo. St. Louis County Police Department
Thomas Bruce in an undated photo.

Two of the victims complied, but when mother of three Jamie Schmidt, 53, refused, she was shot in the head by Bruce, police said.

Bruce then ordered the other victims to continue performing sexual acts on him, then he fled the scene, according to police.

Officers swarmed the store — which sells rosary beads, votive candles, Bibles and other religious supplies — but by the time officers arrived Bruce was gone.

Police later released images of clothing items similar to those Bruce wore during the alleged attack. Bruce then discarded the clothes he wore during the alleged incident, police said.

Bruce was detained at a mobile home park in a St. Louis suburb Wednesday. Officials said detectives interviewed Bruce Wednesday afternoon.

Bruce is being held on $150,000 cash-only bond. It is unknown if he has retained an attorney.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy at Catholic Supply. We are praying for these victims… We join civic authorities asking for the community’s assistance in apprehending the culprit of this crime.

PHOTO: Authorities investigate the scene at a Catholic Supply store where a gunman went into the religious supply store, sexually assaulted at least one woman and shot a woman in the head, Nov. 19, 2018, in Ballwin, Mo.Johanna Huckeba/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP
Authorities investigate the scene at a Catholic Supply store where a gunman went into the religious supply store, sexually assaulted at least one woman and shot a woman in the head, Nov. 19, 2018, in Ballwin, Mo.

Officials said that the victims did not know the alleged killer and investigators have not determined a motive for the crime.

PHOTO: Police investigate at scene of an attack inside the Catholic Supply store in St. Louis on Nov. 19, 2018.David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Getty Images
Police investigate at scene of an attack inside the Catholic Supply store in St. Louis on Nov. 19, 2018.
PHOTO: Police investigate at scene of an attack inside the Catholic Supply store in St. Louis on Nov. 19, 2018.Johanna Huckeba/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Getty Images
Police investigate at scene of an attack inside the Catholic Supply store in St. Louis on Nov. 19, 2018.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy at Catholic Supply. We are praying for these victims… We join civic authorities asking for the community’s assistance in apprehending the culprit of this crime,” Archbishop Robert Carlos of the Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement.

ABC News’ Rachel Katz contributed to this report.