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Marshal, suspect dead after St. Louis gun battle

Image: Two US Marshals And Police Officer Shot In St. Louis
Law enforcement officials investigate at the scene where two U.S. marshals and a St. Louis police officer were shot while trying to make an arrest Tuesday in St. Louis, Missouri. One deputy marshal and the suspect in the case died.Whitney Curtis / Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

A deputy federal marshal who was shot in the head Tuesday during a gun battle with a man they were trying to arrest died of his wounds hours later, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

John Perry, 48, died at Saint Louis University Hospital at 7 p.m. — 12 hours after he and two other law enforcement officers were shot by the 35-year-old man wanted on drug possession and assault charges. The suspect was also killed.

Another deputy marshal — 31-year-old Theodore Abegg, a three-year veteran — was shot in an ankle, while a bullet grazed an unidentified police officer's face.

Perry was in the marshals service for nearly a decade. Relatives flocked to his side at the hospital as he clung to life.

"Our people and our partners are well trained and prepared, but it is impossible to predict when a wanted individual will make a fateful choice that results in the loss of life or injury," Stacia Hylton, the marshals service's director, said in a statement. "When that happens, and the life lost is a law enforcement officer or other public servant, it is an immeasurable tragedy felt by all."

Perry was accompanying police as they to arrest Carlos Boles at a home on the city's south side. Boles was wanted on a Missouri warrant charging him with assaulting a law enforcement officer and possession of a controlled substance.

The police department said it requested backup from the U.S. Marshals Service because of a tip that Boles might be a threat.

A relative of a man involved in a standoff with St. Louis police reacts after a police tactical team entered a house in the 3100 block of Osage, Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden) EDWARDSVILLE INTELLIGENCER OUT; THE ALTON TELEGRAPH OUTChristian Gooden / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

When the law enforcement officers arrived at Boles' Osage Street home, they discovered there were children inside, according a police account of the incident. After the children were escorted outside, the officers entered and began a floor-by-floor search for Boles. When they spotted him on the second floor, Boles started shooting, police said.

Sannita Vaughn, who identified herself as Boles' sister, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her three children — ages 8, 13 and 15 — were staying with her brother and his girlfriend at the home.

Vaughn was reluctant to talk about the matter later, telling The Associated Press as other relatives tried to keep reporters away that "all we know is they killed him."

Television footage showed one marshal being carried down an alley by several officers and then hustled into an ambulance.

Boles' criminal record in St. Louis stretched back to 1992, when he was charged with first-degree assault at the age of 16, according to court records and the Marshals Service. He pleaded guilty in early 1993 and served four months of a 10-year prison sentence just after his 17th birthday.

Boles went to prison again in 2005, serving four months of a 10-year prison sentence for felony charges of marijuana possession. He was on probation until 2008 in that case.

In October, Boles was walking down a street when police officers began following him, according to a probable cause statement. They tried to arrest him after seeing him throw a pill bottle. Boles resisted, punched an officer in the neck and threatened the police, the statement said. The officers used a stun gun to subdue him.

The pill bottle contained heroin, cocaine and an anti-anxiety medication called alprazolam, the probable cause statement said.

A warrant was issued for Bole's arrest Jan. 11.

Dozens of spectators gathered for hours after the shooting outside Boles' home, braving cold rain as police in tactical gear scoured the home and then cleared the way for FBI crime-scene technicians.

As police began to disband, bystanders began shouting obscenities at them. Some officers used police dogs to keep the angry spectators at a distance.