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Police: Prayer interrupted a St. Louis crime spree

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ST. LOUIS — A violent suspect wanted for a series of downtown crimes is now locked up, but it was one chilling encounter in particular that is getting a lot of attention. Police say an attempted carjacking was stopped with a prayer.

A St. Louis Police crime center camera caught it on video while it was taking place in the shadow of the dome downtown.


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On October 18th, court records say Romel S. Taylor, 37, held a large ax and told the victim to give up their car keys. Police added “The victim stated, ‘Will you pray with me?’ -then began praying, which caused the defendant to walk away.”

That gripping report came right in the middle of what St. Louis Police say was a three-month citywide crime spree. Court records document Taylor hit at least four locations, from South City through downtown, to North City.

The first clue for police came in September, in North City, where investigators say they captured surveillance video of the defendant selling stolen tools at a pawn shop.

Then, in October, also in North City, police say they gathered another video of suspect Taylor committing a $4,000 bank heist. This incident was reported within days of the downtown attempted robbery.

The next clue came last week, with the help of a tracking device.

It was on South Broadway where police reported capturing the suspect Friday November 10th. Court records say the suspect carjacked someone leaving work and then was tracked with the victim’s mobile phone that was still in the car.

Taylor’s current charges of robbery, attempted robbery and armed criminal action are listed in the court record along with a history of priors for drug and gun related convictions.

Fernandes says he now has another reason to consider how he’ll act if confronted, as he explained, “I was also told if you’re approached by somebody that’s bonkers—act bonkers yourself—it will stop them dead in their tracks, so I can see why a prayer would too.”

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