Diata Crockett. (St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)
Following an overnight manhunt, authorities in Missouri have detained a convicted felon who is accused of drawing a gun on his wife, pulling the trigger and accidentally killing his 8-month-old son.
Police said Diata Crockett shot the couple’s son Reign during a domestic dispute Tuesday, then fled with their two toddlers still in the car.
The two children were found later but Crockett was still missing.
“He’s armed, he’s considered dangerous, and he’s used violence not only today but in the past as well,” St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said during a news conference Tuesday, according to NBC affiliate KSDK.
But hours later, on Wednesday morning, Crockett “turned himself in to his lawyer and is now in SLMPD custody,” police said in a statement.
“Thanks to everyone who assisted in ensuring the children’s safety and the apprehension of the suspect,” the statement said. “The investigation is ongoing.”
It was not immediately clear who Crockett’s attorney is.
“It’s tragic — any act of violence is tragic — but when an 8-month-old in his mother’s arms is targeted by a family member, or caught up in a family member’s crossfire, I really have to question the humanity of this individual,” Dotson told reporters, according to KSDK. “And that’s why I think it’s important that we bring him into custody as quickly as possible.”
Crockett pleaded guilty in 2006 of first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and property damage charges from August 2003 in St. Louis, and completed a year of probation.
He also pleaded guilty in 2011 to drug-related charges, unlawful use of a weapon, resisting arrest and forgery after St. Louis County police arrested him in September 2010. He was sentenced to five years in prison starting in May 2011.
According to court documents, a county officer saw Crockett put two large clear plastic bags containing about 400 grams of marijuana under the seat of the car. When officers tried to arrest him, he ran, and police had to chase him, according to the documents.
Officers found a loaded 9mm pistol in his waistband when he was arrested, and Crockett admitted he was a fugitive and had a probation warrant out for his arrest, according to the documents.
He signed another person’s name to the arrest sheet and gave police a false name, and admitted to police that he intended to sell the marijuana, according to the documents.
During a news conference Tuesday, Dotson spoke about Missouri’s gun laws.
“I think there are questions we always have to ask about violence and the availability of guns and how desensitized some people have become,” he told reporters. “Whether you’re shooing at the mother or the child in this, neither are appropriate. The father — who has a gun, who has a criminal history, who’s known to law enforcement — still has a gun and is willing to use it against his own family.
“That, I think, makes a serious statement about him.”
He added: “I continue to see situations in St. Louis where our officers risk their lives to go out and do their job every day to arrest people with guns, and we don’t see outcomes that make our community any safer.”