A Bridgeton man was shot and killed during what police say appears to be a random home invasion. Those living in the small neighborhood say they'll be keeping a close eye out after learning this was just the latest of several other incidents in the area that may be connected.
“I heard her howling, she was howling and stuff and I seen him laying there…first time I seen a man dead like that.” It was something Dolores Armstead wasn't expecting when she heard the woman next door screaming around 9:00 Tuesday night. Her neighbor, 44 year-old Enrique Santiago was shot and killed after police say he confronted a masked man who forced his way through the front door of his South Avenue home. “You could tell he was fighting that man back,” said Armstead, who lives in the same duplex as the victim, “you could tell he was fighting cause it was so loud like somebody was tussling.”
“He's a hardworking man, I just can’t believe…why they have to shoot the man?” Those who knew Santiago are shocked to hear the news, saying he was a devoted family man. Police say other family members were home at the time of the shooting, but were not harmed, and neighbors believe he died trying to protect them. “It's just a shock to me,” said Randall Hadley, who lives across the street and worked with Santiago, “a good guy like that, he don't bother nobody, peaceful. He'd do anything for you, he'd give you the coat off his back.’
“It's crazy,” said next-door neighbor Ryan Collins.
With residents still reeling from this tragedy, they say they'll be extra guarded after learning it was just the latest incident in the small neighborhood. Police say just before the fatal home invasion, an armed suspect with a similar description kicked in a door on the same block and demanded money. A block away, the night before, a woman was robbed at gunpoint. “It makes you darn nervous,” said Hadley, “it makes you scared because it could've happened to my mom, it could've happened to anyone living around here.”
Authorities say detectives have recovered evidence from Santiago’s home and the other crime scenes, adding that they've also stepped up patrols throughout the city, saying they have seen a significant rise in robberies and home invasions since August. “It could've been me,” said Armstead, “now I gotta keep my doors locked.”
“Let’s me know I gotta keep my eyes open,” said Collins, “It's real out here.”
Police say the suspect is described at a thin black man, approximately 5’10” to 6’0” tall, wearing a black mask, black sweat jacket and dark pants. Authorities say they are pursuing leads that may link the incidents.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers at (856) 455-5550 or can text TIP411 using the subtext "Bridgeton."