ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – In the midst of Marine Week with tanks, guns, and heavy weapons parked on lawns all over downtown, the Mayor is wondering how two unarmed prowlers out-fought and robbed three Marines on the street.
Police report that two Marines in their early 20s were walking near the Soldier’s Memorial downtown around 2:30 Monday morning, when two suspects in their 20s approached. According to the police report, the suspects tried to sell the Marines jewelry and then an argument led to a fight.
Police say one of the suspects punched a Marine. Another suspect reportedly took a pocket knife from the other Marine and poked him with it, causing a minor cut. The Marines told police the suspects took one of their wallets and ran away.
Police say a third Marine was also present, but was not fully involved in the fight.
“We take this story at face value and we’re going to investigate it,” said Police Chief Dan Isom.
In the hallways of police headquarters, some police officials were struggling to understand the incident, saying it didn’t sound right.
Even Mayor Francis Slay reacted to the news with skepticism, wondering how three Marines, one of whom was carrying a knife, would lose their knife and a wallet to two un-armed men.
“They were in an altered state because they had a fair amount to drink and it was 2:30 in the morning,” Slay said. ”The Marines are great to St. Louis and certainly this is not indicative of Marine Week.”
But a Marine spokesman shed more light on the mugging, suggesting that the Marines turned the other cheek to avoid violence.
“Marines have been given rules of engagement not to engage in any violence except to protect their lives,” said Marine Spokeswoman Capt Kate Vanden Bossche.
When asked if the Marines have essentially been told to hand over their wallets in St. Louis, rather than fight to protect their property, Vanden Bossche said: “If someone is in such dire need that they need to rob someone, I don’t think that’s a fight Marines need to get into.”
A Marine press release on the attack indicates how the fight ended: ”After a brief altercation, the parties were separated with the help of the third Marine and police were contacted. The Marines relinquished their wallets and both assailants fled the scene.”