Monday, November 26, 2012

East St. Louis, IL: 'So out of character': ESL murder, suicide has city in shock

 — The 69-year-old man and 66-year-old woman who died in a murder-suicide Thursday in the 700 block of North 75th Street have been identified as Bobby Stewart and Dorothy McCaskill.
East St. Louis Police received a call at 6 p.m. to respond to what they believed was a hostage situation at the couple's residence. Once there, they called in the Illinois State Police SWAT team. The next several hours were intense and police used extreme caution in an attempt to keep the situation from escalating.
Officers were outside the residence for a couple hours before the ISP team arrived. At this point, they still believed they were dealing with a hostage situation.
Once they entered the house they found McCaskill dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Her body was on the first level of the two-story home by the front door. SWAT team members deployed a robot to the second floor.
"They were able to see a man laying face down on the floor. Once they made entry they could see that he was deceased," State Police Capt. James Morrisey said.
Morrisey said it appears Stewart shot McCaskill with a handgun and then used a shotgun to end his life. A motive is not known.
"I am very devastated. Our family is devastated," said Arnold Stewart, the brother of Bobby Stewart.
But the horrific way he ended his life and that of McCaskill's is not something Arnold Stewart said he or anyone who knew him could imagine.
"They went through things in their marriage like anyone else. They're not arguing anymore. They don't have to worry about that. He was good. She was good. Sometimes everybody can't get along.
"They were married for 40 years," Arnold Stewart said.
He said brother was "quiet, but outgoing, too."
He was always at a high school or college football or basketball game and was a helpful person.
"Even though he got burned a lot of the time, he was still always willing to help someone who needed help."
Arnold Stewart said Bobby Stewart was the third of four brothers.
In addition to the boys in the family, Stewart said there are two sisters-in-law.
A sister died previously along with the Stewart's parents.
Bobby Stewart joined the Air Force after graduating from Lincoln High School in East St. Louis.
"He was a military policeman," his brother said.
And, he retired from Illinois Power.
A 44-year-old woman who police said Stewart shot in the leg was his stepdaughter, Arnold Stewart said. Her injuries were not life threatening.
A member of McCaskill's family could not be reached for comment.
Neighbors who knew Bobby Stewart said it was out of character for him to do something like this.
Stewart was described as "a genuine nice guy -- easy going and always had a smile."
Edith Moore, Precinct 20 committeewoman, said Stewart was a lifetime friend.
"He was a genuinely nice, mannerly guy. I was so shocked when I found out the tragic news. I am still shocked because it is so out of character for him," Moore said.
Mayor Alvin Parks called the shooting "tragic."
"It's just tragic when you think about the wonderful time of year we are in, people giving thanks and celebrating with family. To have a family member take another member's life and then his own is just tragic. Our prayers -- the community's prayers -- are with the entire family."
Parks praised the police and medical attendants who responded to the shooting scene.
"We often forget many of the first-responders who were there last night, along with Illinois State Police and all of the other agencies, including our own East St. Louis Police Department," he said.
"Many of them were not officially on duty but had to be called out away from their families. This underscores the need for civilians to appreciate and respect first-responders who do whatever is necessary when they are called to duty."
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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