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Partial Description Released of Trucker Murdered

EAST ST. LOUIS • The gunman who killed a trucker trying to make a predawn delivery Thursday at a food warehouse in East St. Louis was still on the loose Friday.

Illinois State Police Lt. James Morrisey said there are no arrests or suspects in the killing of Truman L. Smith, 40, of Irondale, Mo.

Police trying to drum up tips handed out fliers at two intersections early Friday about a block from the murder scene. They also have video surveillance footage of the gunman that they are trying to get enhanced for release to the media, police said Friday.

The description of the gunman is vague — a young man who wore a white T-shirt or hoodie, blue jeans, white tennis shoes and possibly a red hat. He had gold teeth on the top row.

Smith, a former Marine who served during the Persian Gulf War, was shot in the chest in an apparent robbery attempt early Thursday outside Fresh Warehousing, at 2601 McCasland Avenue.

He worked for E&K Truck Services, based in St. Clair, Mo. Police were called about the shooting shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday after he was found lying next to his truck.

Smith’s sister, Brenda Lea Gibson, said her brother was divorced and the father of three children and three stepchildren.

When Smith’s mother went to identify his body Thursday, police investigators handed over his belongings: an ankle bracelet that one of his children had made him — and 21 cents.

“To me, this is very senseless,” Gibson said.

Gibson said her brother had served in the Marines for four years. He worked for the last seven years in the trucking business and never ran into trouble before, she said. He was taking classes online to obtain his bachelor’s degree in business.

“He had a larger-than-life personality,” said Gibson, 43, of Irondale, Mo. “He always had a smile on his face. He always had a good word for you. He lived for his kids.”

Visitation for Smith will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home, at 1116 N. Desloge Drive in Desloge, Mo. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

LaToya Golden, 33, of East St. Louis, lives about a half-block from the shooting scene. On Friday, Golden said she had been heading to work early Thursday when she saw Smith lying on the road next to his truck. At first, she thought he was changing a tire, then knew he was in trouble as she got closer.

“He said, ‘Help me,'” Golden says.

Golden said Smith was alert and talking, and he told her he had been shot. She called police and tried to comfort him.

“I was telling him, ‘Just hang on. Stay with me,'” Golden said.

As she waited for help to arrive, Golden said she was nervous because the gunman could be near. “I was so scared. I didn’t know if the guy was still around.”

Golden said police arrived quickly.

“He was very alert so I just knew he was going to make it,” Golden says. “He was talking to police, describing how the person looked.”

Later, when Golden was at work, a co-worker reading a news account told her he had died after arriving at the hospital. “I broke down and started crying,” says Golden, who works as an accounts clerk for a financial company.

Gibson, Smith’s sister, said she is grateful that the woman stayed with her brother and talked with him until paramedics arrived.

“I want to thank her,” Gibson said. “My mom wants to thank her.”

Anyone with information about Smith’s killing is asked to call East St. Louis Police Detective Orlando Ward at 618-558-8525, Illinois State Police Sgt. Kevin McAleenan at 618-346-3780 or CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.

Illinois State Police and East St. Louis detectives on Friday morning set up an informational roadblock within a block of the murder scene. They handed out fliers between about 5:20 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Friday, hoping to reach anyone who may have been out during that same timeframe the day before.

Police say they didn’t get any immediate tips during that roadblock but were hoping tipsters would call later, since the information can be passed on anonymously. The intersections police used to hand out the fliers were 26th Street at Bond Avenue, and 26th Street at McCasland Avenue.

EARLIER STORY

Police have no suspects in the slaying of a Missouri truck driver who was shot to death early Thursday during an apparent robbery while he was trying to make a delivery in East St. Louis, police say.

Truman L. Smith, 40, of Irondale, Mo., was found lying next to his truck just before 6 a.m. Thursday outside Fresh Warehousing, at 2601 McCasland Avenue.

Police said he worked for E&K Truck Services, based in St. Clair.

Lt. James Morrisey of the Illinois State Police said Smith had parked his truck on the street and gotten out to make a delivery at the warehouse. Morrisey said the warehouse is surrounded by a gated fence, and the truck driver may have gotten out to push a button to activate the gate.

Police said a gunman approached Smith, shot him during an apparent robbery and fled south on 26th Street. It is not clear whether the gunman took anything from Smith.

Smith was taken to Kenneth Hall Memorial Hospital in East St. Louis, where he was pronounced dead.

The Illinois State Police and East St. Louis police are investigating.

Morrisey declined to say whether the shooting was captured on any surveillance camera at the warehouse.

Co-workers at E&K Truck Services, where Smith worked for five years, described him as a friendly guy who worked hard.

Earl Veasman, one of the company’s owners, said Smith was a divorced father who had served overseas with the Marines during the Persian Gulf War. He also was working on a college degree by taking courses online.

Marlon A. Walker of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. janet bimbo
    February 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    HOPE THE KILLER GETS THE DEATH PENALTY FOR TAKING A YOUNG MANS LIFE LIKE THAT

  2. FRED
    April 24, 2011 at 5:31 am

    i strongly agree that WE as truck drivers stay alert and be ready to take action to prevent this from happening again. we all should push that truck drivers can carry a firearm as means for personal protection and stated with the Peaceable Journey Act.

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