ST. LOUIS – A divorced couple who died in a murder-suicide inside a suburban St. Louis mall had a violent relationship that prompted at least four police visits and each to seek orders of protection against each other, court records show.
Barbara Carson, 47, and her ex-husband S.A. Carson, 48, of suburban Hazelwood, sought orders of protection against each other only minutes apart on July 8, St. Louis County Courthouse Administrator Paul Fox said.
The matter was set for a court hearing on July 24.
Authorities said S.A. Carson arrived just after noon Wednesday at Jamestown Mall in north St. Louis County and deflated two tires of his ex-wife's Ford Focus parked there, presumably so she could not get away. He entered the mall, found her sitting on a bench inside, and fired two shots from a handgun into her, police and witnesses said.
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Then he shot himself, collapsing next to his wife's body and terrifying merchants and shoppers.
No one else was hurt. The mall reopened Thursday and the mood, according to general manager Rick Murphy, was "business as usual."
But people were still edgy at Clientele, where the barber shop and salon staff knew the dead woman personally.
"She comes in here all the time," hair stylist Keda Williams, 29, said. "She was a very sweet lady and did not deserve this.
"She was a good friend to everybody."
The shop is just steps away from where the shooting happened.
"We heard the shots and saw the aftermath," Williams said. "We barricaded the back door and stayed inside until everything was clear. It was very terrible."
The couple was divorced in 2006, but apparently still shared a residence, according to authorities and court records.
Hazelwood Police Capt. Gregg Hall said officers responded to four domestic dispute calls at the Carson home in the last two years.
Two of the calls were to keep the peace while one of the them sought to get property out of the home.
Two others involved verbal disputes and threats of guns that later were determined to be unsubstantiated, Hall said.
He said as far as he knew, the couple was living together despite their divorce. In court records, both the Carsons list the same home address in Hazelwood and claimed they resided together.
In court papers filed July 8, Barbara Carson said the previous night at the home, she answered a cell phone call and her ex-husband demanded to know who was calling her. When she refused to say, he drew a handgun and repeated his demand. She fled in her car, with him in pursuit, and called police.
According to court filings, she worked as a school bus driver for Hazelwood schools earning $13 an hour, and he was an operations supervisor at Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District earning $65,400 a year. She reported no knowledge of his earnings or benefits, or the cost of their living expenses. She claimed $20 cash on hand and $100 in a bank account. She demanded $500 a month child support for their son.
In his court filing, S.A. Carson said his ex-wife lied to police about him threatening her with a gun. He said his ex-wife came by his job and in his bedroom "talking loud and talking about her brothers are going to kill me. She goes into rages ..."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported divorce papers showing the couple leaves behind an adult mentally retarded son, and that S.A. Carson owned 22 different guns.