Some short-term rental properties were hubs of NYE celebratory gunfire – First Alert 4

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (First Alert 4) – Police officers were busy on New Year’s Eve responding to celebratory gunfire across the city.

Michelle Pona lives near Tower Grove Park and said she and her husband were left hiding in their homes.

She said she was alerted by her camera system that there was movement in the back park pad of her home.

“Carloads of young men parking on our property and blatantly walking around with long guns,” Pona said. “I had never been that scared being resident in the City of St. Louis.”

Pona lives on South Kingshighway and said it sounded like a warzone New Year’s Eve night.

Her cameras caught people going in the front of a short-term rental property next door on New Year’s Eve night.

“We didn’t know what they were planning to do. We knew the party was going on. Were they going to ambush the party? Were they here for a gun battle?” Pona said.

Less than two miles from Pona’s home, bullets were flying at a short-term rental (STR) property on Hunt Avenue.

First Alert 4 counted almost a dozen bullet holes in the windows. Police say when they arrived on Hunt Avenue, they found roughly 40 shell casting near the house.

St. Louis Police were responding to hundreds of shots fired and ShotSpotter calls between 6 p.m. Sunday evening and 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day. While police are still calculating the shots fired and ShotSpotter calls for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this year–they responded to 324 shots fired calls in 2022.

Kari Wojtkowski serves on the Southwest Garden Neighborhood Association Board and has heard from worried residents.

“Residents of our neighborhood who are concerned about crime in the neighborhood,” Wojtkowski said.

Mayor Tishaura Jones signed Board Bills 33 and 34, establishing regulations on short-term rentals in November.

Wojtkowski would like the city’s SRT regulations to be implemented now to prevent more crimes at these short-term rental properties. Pona agrees.

However, the regulations aren’t implemented until mid or late 2024.

“The city needed to do this years ago. They needed to get on board like every other city,” said Pona.

Last week, a man was killed at a short-term rental property on Talmage Avenue near the Grove.

While the rapid gunfire seems to be over to ring in the new year, Pona said this may be the last straw for her and her husband.

“We were in our living room sitting on the floor away from windows, having to keep our dogs inside out of fear that our dogs would be shot, bullets would come flying through the window of our home. This is no way to live,” said Pona.

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