By Paul Schankman, FOX2now.com in St. Louis
A Maplewood man is facing the potential of ten years in prison after allegedly posting a classified on Craigslist, offering $1,000,000 to anyone who would kill any Maplewood police officer, and $2,000,000 for the murder of one particular officer.
Maplewood police found out about the million dollar bounty after an Arnold police officer spotted the ad on Thursday.
Detectives were able to trace it back to an IP address that led them to 32-year old William Lawrence, who lives in an apartment he shares with his elderly mother in the 7700 block of Lindbergh Dr,. in Maplewood.
“That`s ridiculous, he was blowing off steam is all he was doing, he couldn`t pay them a dollar much less a million dollars,” said 73-year old Judith Freist, the suspect’s mother.
This trouble began on February 6th, when Maplewood police were called to Lawrence’s apartment by a neighbor who claims Lawrence pulled a gun on him during a quarrel.
When police arrived, they discovered Lawrence had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a charge of drunk driving, so they arrested him.
According to the federal complaint filed Friday, at the time of the arrest, Lawrence appeared to be reaching for a weapon under his shirt, so police tazered him.
Then while searching his apartment, they found two guns, one a shotgun and the other rifle. They also found a marijuana plant.
Police seized the guns and the plant as evidence.
Following the arrest, the complaint says Lawrence contacted Maplewood police five times trying to get his guns returned, but the officer who is the evidence custodian refused.
That officer is the target of Lawrence’s alleged $2,000,000 bounty.
“He called them three, four, five times wanting his guns because they were heirlooms that belonged to his dad and is dad`s dad, and they said he could have them. When he got over the to pick them up they wouldn`t let him have them,” said Freist, adding, “they give him the run around on the guns, the run around on his court dates, and it just all built up to this; one little DWI,” said Freist.
This is the sort of thing no police department would take lightly, but in Maplewood it is especially unnerving because in 2008, two of its officers were wounded and a firefighter killed after being ambushed by a resident upset simply over a dispute about trash in his yard.
“It is a hazard of the job and it is one you don`t like or relish but when these threats are made known to us we certainly take them seriously,” said Maplewood police chief Steve Kruse.
“It was very disturbing to the officers. You see what happens in today`s world with all the violence especially the gun violence and with the number of police officers who have been killed throughout the United States has been substantial,” Kruse said.
The suspect’s mother says her son has never said anything about placing such and ad, and she says he only occasionally smoked marijuana to help with his bi-polar disorder. She says he was not attempting to sell it.
Lawrence is being held on a federal charge of “use of a facility of interstate commerce in the commission of a murder for hire.”
It carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, and/or a fine up to $250,000.