Days before a 53-year-old former pastor from Imperial, Missouri, was charged with sexually assaulting two women and fatally shooting a third, Thomas Bruce wrote on Facebook that he wanted to “end gun-free zones and put the criminals on notice that they will be stopped.”
The Jefferson County man has been charged with 17 crimes in the sexual assault of two women and the killing of a third at a Catholic Supply store on Manchester Road on Monday.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Bruce forced three women into a back room of the store at gunpoint and ordered them to strip.
When Jamie Schmidt, a customer from House Springs, refused to comply with his demands, investigators said Bruce shot her in the head.
The charges say he then ordered the two other women, who were store employees, “to continue performing deviant sexual acts on him.”
Bruce was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and multiple counts of sodomy, armed criminal action, kidnapping, burglary and tampering with evidence. He is being held without bail.
“Murder in the first degree carries a potential death sentence,” said McCulloch. “The kidnappings are all class A felonies, carrying up to life in prison.”
The St. Louis Dispatch reports that he worked as a pastor from about 2003 to 2007 for a few dozen people at Calvary Chapel of Cape Girardeau, according to David Fitzgerald, a pastor at an affiliated church in St. Louis County.
Catholic Supply’s president, Dan Stutte, said in a statement posted online: “We are deeply relieved that an arrest has been made. Our sincere thanks to the St. Louis County Police for its dedication and excellent work.”