An Alton, Mo. woman with a history of mental illness is dead after suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound while riding in a police car. According to her family Stephanie Hicks, 20, 5′ 1″ and 99 lbs., was walking across the Alton Bridge on July 4, to seek help for her problems at the BJC Christian Hospital. She reportedly had a history of mental problems, and was known to police. Hicks was picked up by an officer who reportedly tried to stop her from walking the 10 miles in the heat. Realizing that Hicks was determined to go to St. Louis, the 13-year veteran was taking her to the hospital in his cruiser as a courtesy on what police are calling a “crisis intervention.” Hicks, who was not in custody, was allowed to ride in the front seat of the cruiser where the AC was better. It is at this point that events took a turn for the worst. Hicks allegedly surprised the officer, took his gun and fatally shot herself with it.
Her mother, Robin Hicks, is both distraught and angry. She told reporters that Stephanie “was on her way the hospital, you know, to check herself in, and the Alton Police took her, and she grabbed their gun. Shot herself.” Though according to her mother, Hicks tried to commit suicide a year ago, and left some kind of note in the days before the incident, she does not believe police accounts of the incident. Stephanie’s grandmother Joan Singleton asks, “How did that little girl get that gun? How? Tell me how she could just get a gun from a police officer?” The officer was placed on administrative leave, while St. Louis County police investigate. No more details have been released, citing an ongoing investigation.