Father sought after infant shot to death in mother's arms in St. Louis

Diata Crockett.

SLMPD via CBS St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- An 8-month-old boy was shot to death in his mother's arms Tuesday, and the suspected shooter -- the boy's father -- remained at large, St. Louis police said.

The deadly shooting occurred shortly after 1 p.m. by an Interstate 270 exit ramp near the city limits, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. The baby, Reign Crockett, was shot once as his mother attempted to escape a slowing car in which two other young sons were passengers, Dotson said. Police believe Diata R. Crockett, 34, was aiming at the mother, Dotson said.

The victim's brothers, ages 2 and 3, were found unharmed several hours later at a family member's home in the St. Louis suburb of Bellefontaine Neighbors, near Ferguson.

The mother flagged down a passing motorist who drove her and the infant to an area hospital as Crockett pursued them, Dotson said.

According to Dotson, an 11-minute 911 conversation includes audio in which the unidentified Good Samaritan and the boy's mother, whose name was not released, can be heard saying: "He's trying to run us off the road. He's trying to cause an accident. He's following us."

Dotson said Crockett had made suicidal and homicidal threats against himself and his family prior to the shooting, CBS affiliate KMOV reported.

After the shooting, Crockett allegedly fled the scene with two other children in the car, prompting an AMBER Alert. Originally a SARAA alert, which is an AMBER Alert for only St. Louis area was issued, but the alert was then expanded to a wider geographical area, KMOV reported.

Blaze Crockett, 3, and Ryker Crockett, 2, were believed to be with Diata Crockett. But were found safe in a home in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

Crockett, whom police initially said was 35, remained at large Tuesday evening. His criminal record includes convictions for burglary, resisting arrest and forgery, online court records show, and Dotson said that "he may be wanted for a parole violation." It's unclear when Crockett was released from prison.


Diata Crockett.

CBS affiliate KMOV

"He's armed, he's considered dangerous, and he's used violence not only today but in the past," Dotson said.

Police said the incident began as a domestic dispute at the couple's St. Louis County home, also in Bellefontaine Neighbors, where Crockett forced his wife and three of their six children into the car at gunpoint.

Crockett was believed to be driving a black 2014 Hyundai Sonata rental car with Illinois license plate V446952, wearing a lime green shirt and green pants. Local media reported the car was found abandoned Tuesday night in St. Louis County.

Dotson said the shooting was the type of crime that "makes me sometimes question humanity."