St. Louis Man Charged with First-Degree Murder of Black Teen Walking Home; Teen Was Reportedly Stepping Back with His Hands Up

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After St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced a $100,000 reward for those with information on the more than a dozen killings of young Black people in the area, a man has been charged in the killing of a Black male teenager.

Joseph Renick, 54, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm Thursday, The Associated Press reported per the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. Renick, who is being held on $500,000 bond, is accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Sentonio Cox on August 25.

Sentonio’s body was discovered by authorities after he was reported missing. A teen who said he was Sentonio’s friend told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP that the teen was walking home when he had been shot. The pal said Sentonio usually cut through an empty lot near where the shooting occurred in order to get to his home. 

Cox had been shot in the head and was the latest in what was at the time at least 13 shootings of children in St. Louis under the age of 16.

Speaking to Fox 2 Now, Sentonio’s mother, Roxzyanna Edwards, wanted to know why it took several days for the suspect to be arrested.

“Why did it take four days for them to get him when they were told who done it?” she tells the news outlet Friday after visiting the location where a vigil was held for her son earlier last week.

Court documents state Sentonio had been backing away from Renick with his hands raised when he was fatally shot. Expressing her displeasure with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, Edwards said she feels race played a part in locating the suspect, a white man who she said was sitting on his porch across the street from the vigil site rather than sitting in prison.

“If my son would have done something, they would have come and got him,” she says, before noting others should be accountable for her son’s killing.

“I want him to be the same way as my son,” Edwards says. “I want the same penalty.”

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told the news station some of Sentonio’s mother’s remarks are speculation and declined to comment. A spokesperson noted since the investigation is ongoing, specific details would not be commented on. However, the likelihood of more arrests has not been ruled out.

Renick is the second person arrested in connection with the killings of Black children and teens. The first arrest, made in mid-August, was a suspect accused of killing 7-year-old boy Xavier Usanga who was playing with his sisters in the backyard of their home, police said. At a press conference held a day before Sentonio’s fatal shooting, Krewson announced four $25,000 rewards for information on a child under 10 who was shot and killed through Sept. 1.

“This is urgent,” the mayor said at the August 24 news conference. “Right now we hope we that we will be able to get information to police today, tomorrow, Monday.”

The reward period ended Sunday.

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