A man who had a previous encounter with the man accused of sexually assaulting two women and fatally shooting a third at a Catholic Supply store in Missouri says he got a first-hand glimpse of the suspect’s rage last month.
The man, who asked to not be identified, told FOX2 he reported Thomas Bruce to Missouri State Highway Patrol after a road rage incident where Bruce was weaving in-between lanes and riding bumpers until the two collided.
“(Bruce) was acting very psychotic, very erratic, and even more so with the officer than with me,” the man told FOX2.
After the two got into an accident, Bruce got out of his car and tried to fight the man, bumping his chest and yelling he was going to “f—ing pay.”
When an officer arrived at the scene of the crash, the man told FOX2 that Bruce got even more aggressive.
“He was worse with the officer than he was with me. He’s like, ‘You f—ing work for me, I’m a citizen, I pay your f—ing salary’ and just continues to even get closer to the officer and get physical with the officer,” the man said.
The officer was able to defuse the situation, and the road rage incident didn’t result in any charges. The man told FOX2 what stuck with him was how aggressive Bruce was.
“The guy was trying to start something,” he told FOX2. “(Bruce) was intentionally trying to get a reaction out of me.”
The 53-year-old was charged Wednesday with killing one woman and sexually assaulting two others after herding them at gunpoint into the back room of a religious supplies shop in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin last week. Two of the women complied but the third, 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt of nearby House Springs, refused, so he shot her in the head, prosecutors said.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch called the crime “heartbreaking,” adding that there was no indication the store was targeted because of its religious affiliation.
“It seems to me a guy like this saw an opportunity — three women in the store alone,” McCulloch said at a news conference on Wednesday.
When authorities put out a description of a suspect in the attack at the store in Missouri on Monday, officials noted similarities in the description of the Catholic Supply shooting suspect and a man wanted for the murder of two girls – ages 13 and 14 — in Delphi, Indiana, last year.
In the Missouri killings, a man was reported wearing a navy blue Carhartt-style work jacket, a plaid shirt, red, white, and black in color, glasses, a brown belt with a red and blue square on the clasp or clip of the belt and a newsboys/flat hat.
That outfit was similar to the one described being worn by the suspect in Delphi.
While officials in Indiana told RTV6 they were “aware” of the investigation in St. Louis, they added that it was “premature” to draw any link between the two crimes.
If and when an arrest is made of a suspect identified by the Indiana State Police as the alleged perpetrator of the Delphi murders, rest assured, we will let everyone know,” ISP Capt. Dave Bursten told RTV6.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.