ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Obsessed since the 1904 World’s Fair with convincing the rest of the world — and itself — that St. Louis is a cosmopolitan city, the Mayor’s office was scrambling to explain how a deer that died Friday on a busy downtown street was left there over 24 hours before someone bothered to pick it up.
The big brown doe that wandered into town Friday, crashed into an office lobby, then scampered off to die of its injuries on Memorial Drive near the Arch, laid with its tongue hanging out and flies buzzing, until a police officer working a shooting nearby Saturday afternoon was overheard complaining, “Why is there a dead deer in my crime scene?”
In the marble-laden city hall, designed after a French castle and lined with oil paintings of past mayors who achieved great exploits, current Mayor Francis Slay ordered one of his top aides to research the dead deer and deal with reporters.
Operations Manager Sam Dotson, who keeps a photograph of Pope John Paul above his desk from the Pope’s 1999 visit here, and who has a view of the Justice Center across the street — where he says he “counts the windows to see if any prisoners have escaped” — tried to explain how a dead deer was left unattended for so long.
“Animal Control for the city could’ve responded,” Dotson said, “The Refuse Department could’ve responded, or the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) could’ve responded. So, I don’t know who ultimately was contacted, but those are the three people ultimately who have an interest in it.”
Memorial Drive where the deer lay stiffening with its hooves outstretched in the sun Saturday is a heavily-traveled street that hugs Interstate 70. Potentially, thousands of tourists soaking up impressions of the Gateway City to retell to their families back home may have driven by the dead doe. Some pedestrians may have even paused for pictures, as the corpse was tossed on a gravel shoulder providing a Kodak moment with the Arch in the background.
On Friday, police officer Chad Cross told KMOX at the scene that the deer, which had died of its injuries, would be picked up.
More than 24 hours later shots rang out within a half a block of the dead deer. A motorist was driving out of a parking garage on Memorial Drive when two suspects on foot approached the car and shot the man in the face. The man survived. The suspects got away. And in the whirl of police activity, someone noticed the dead deer and contacted MODOT to get rid of it.
“Once they were contacted, MODOT responded within an hour,” Dotson said, “and the remains were removed.”
St. Louis Police were unable to verify whether one of their officers on Friday had contacted City Hall to remove the deer. A public relations staffer said she had several calls on the mystery, but she hadn’t been able to solve it before she broke for lunch.
It’s believed the deer wandered in from north of town, where heavy construction for a new Mississippi River bridge may have disrupted its habitat.