ST. LOUIS » A Missouri father was charged today with first-degree murder in the death of his 8-month-old son — a shooting an investigator says happened after the man threatened his wife who told him during a car ride she wanted a divorce.
Diata Crockett, 34, of the St. Louis County town of Bellefontaine Neighbors, turned himself in to his attorney today, a day after the shooting and intense manhunt that followed. Hours later, St. Louis prosecutors charged him with murder, armed criminal action, domestic assault, endangering a child, unlawful possession and unlawful use of a weapon.
St. Louis police investigator Daniel Sweeney said in a probable cause statement that Crockett and his wife were in a car Tuesday with the three youngest of their six children when the wife told him during an argument she wanted a divorce. Crockett then hit her with a semi-automatic handgun and threatened to kill her, steering the vehicle toward a secluded area known to the couple, Sweeney wrote in the statement included with Wednesday’s criminal complaint.
Crockett “told (the wife) that he should have killed her yesterday and that he was going to kill her and himself,” Sweeney wrote.
The woman jumped from the car, clutching infant Reign Crockett. She fled a few steps before Crockett fired, fatally wounding the child, Sweeney said. Police have said they believe Crockett was aiming at his wife when he fired.
The wife, whose name was not released, flagged down a passing motorist as Crockett gave chase for a time. Police Chief Sam Dotson has said the unidentified good Samaritan and the boy’s mother can be heard in an 11-minute 911 call saying: “He’s trying to run us off the road. He’s trying to cause an accident. He’s following us.”
The baby died at a hospital, and Crockett vanished with the two other sons, ages 2 and 3, in the car. Dotson warned at the time that Crockett, who has a lengthy criminal record, had threatened suicide and violence against his family before and was considered armed and dangerous.
A few hours after the shooting, the two children were found safe at a home in Bellefontaine Neighbors. By that evening, the rented Hyundai Sonata that Crockett had been driving was found in Ferguson, at the same Canfield Green apartment complex where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in a 2014 police shooting.
Attorney Scott Rosenblum said Wednesday after Crockett turned himself in to him that the man is “obviously devastated over the loss of his son.”
“That’s first and foremost on his mind,” Rosenblum said. “There’s a lot more to the story than what’s been reported, and we’re going to proceed from there.”
Crockett’s criminal record includes convictions for burglary, assault, drug-related charges, resisting arrest and forgery, online court records show. The Missouri Department of Corrections said he was imprisoned in June 2011 and given parole in December 2011. He violated that parole and has had a warrant for his arrest since January 2013, according to Corrections Department records.