ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Missouri man has been sentenced to two years of probation for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter.
Michael Brandon Smith, formerly of O'Fallon, was also ordered Thursday to perform 40 hours of community service during sentencing in U.S. District Court.
The incident happened May 18, 2012. A Metro St. Louis Air Support Police helicopter was responding to a burglary report at a St. Charles County school when the aircraft was struck several times by a green laser beam.
Federal prosecutors say that when the beam struck the glass of the helicopter the vision of the pilot and a second person in the chopper was impacted, and the helicopter had to pull away from the search.
Smith pleaded guilty in November.
Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel will be joining Hazelwood's Mayor Matthew Robinson to assess tornado damage this afternoon.
The politician grew up in Florissant and graduated from Hazelwood West High School.
They will be joined by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon who first did an aerial assessment of hard hit Sullivan in Franklin County this (Thursday) morning
The Governor declared a state of emergency in Missouri and also activated the State Emergency Operations Plan, which allow state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says his agency provided a list of 163,000 Missouri residents with concealed gun permits to federal authorities. But he says federal investigators never used the information.
Patrol Superintendent Col. Ron Replogle testified Thursday before a Senate committee that has raised concerns about a database on driver's license applicants kept by the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Replogle says the patrol twice got a list of concealed gun permit holders from the Revenue Department and shared it with a fraud investigator at the federal Social Security Administration. But Replogle says the federal investigator was unable to read the information stored on the discs and ultimately destroyed them.
Replogle told senators the patrol should not have released the whole list.
The American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter is moving the Hazelwood shelter to the civic center at 8969 Dunn Road because Armstrong Elementary School does not have power.
Six people spent the night in the Red Cross shelter at Armstrong Elementary last night after tornadoes ripped through the North St. Louis community.
Red Cross disaster assessment teams will begin canvassing tornado damaged neighborhoods in Hazelwood this morning, after police and fire have determined the area is safe.
Downed power lines and a gas leak have prevented first responders from allowing assessment teams in the affected areas. Assessments are required before the Red Cross can begin casework. Volunteers will likely start damage assessments sometime Thursday morning. Caseworkers expect to meet with clients Thursday afternoon.
Anyone in need of Red Cross assistance should call 314.516.2700. Those wishing to donate to the relief effort can call 314.516.2800 or visit redcross.org.
The Red Cross will provide safe shelter and warm food to those affected by the storm until other arrangements are available.
Metro reports due to wires down, trees down and debris in roadways following last night's severe weather, especially in the North St. Louis County area, the following MetroBus routes are being rerouted until further notice:
#45 Ferguson Florissant
#4174 New Halls Ferry Express
Metro says they are unable to serve the Patterson/Lindbergh area at this time. "We ask our MetroBus customers to be patient and allow extra time for their commutes this morning as the situation no doubt will keep changing with regard to streets being opened and closed. Customers should use extreme care in walking to their bus stops in the areas where storm damage was heavy."
Metro Call-A-Ride: Customers will be contacted if Metro Call-A-Ride vans do not have access to their streets.
MetroLink: Normal service this morning. Trains are running on time.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House wants to block the scanning and computer storage of personal documents needed to get a driver's license or state identification card.
Legislation given initial approval 141-14 on Wednesday would bar the Revenue Department from scanning documents needed for driver's licenses or concealed weapons permits. Documents that have been scanned would need to be destroyed.
The bill needs another vote before moving to the Senate, where members have criticized the driver's license procedure.
Previously, license clerks looked at applicants' documents, took a photo and printed the license. Under the new system, licenses are printed and mailed by a contractor several days after people apply. Revenue Department officials have said the new procedure makes licenses more secure and saves money.
Some Missouri senators are pressing the state's driver's license agency to stop collecting documents from people with concealed gun permits.
But the head of the agency said Wednesday he's reluctant to halt the practice.
Since December, clerks in Missouri's local license offices have been making electronic copies of concealed weapons permits for a state database of driver's license applicants. Concealed gun endorsements are noted on driver's licenses.
Some Republican lawmakers have expressed concern about the document database. During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, Chairman Kurt Schaefer asked the Revenue Department to stop making and keeping copies of concealed gun permits.
Revenue Director Brian Long said he's unwilling to commit to that, because the scanned documents provide protection against fraud. But Long also said he will consider it further.
There were three confirmed tornado touchdowns on Wednesday night -- in Hazelwood, Florissant and Alton, Illinois.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency for the St. Louis area after the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms storms caused extensive damage and wide-spread power outages. Nixon will visit St. Louis Thursday to survey the damage with local officials.
The declaration allows local and state agencies to coordinate relief efforts for victims of Wednesday’s storms.
Violent storms rocked the St. Louis metro area Wednesday evening, spawning tornadoes and strong winds that damaged buildings, toppled trees and downed power lines.
Storm damage and power outages have prompted some schools to cancel classes for Thursday.
Shenandoah Valley Elementary School in Chesterfield has canceled class after the storm tore the roof off the building.
All Hazelwood Schools are closed due to power outages. There are also concerns about fallen trees and debris blocking bus routes in the district.
Vianney High School has canceled classes over power issues as well.
Additional school closings will be added to this list if warranted.
Franklin County officials reported damage county-wide. That includes widespread roof and tree damage. Sullivan was one of the hardest hit areas in the county. Several mobile homes were damaged at the Jergenson mobile home park. At least 4 people were injured there, mainly broken bones. Rescue crews have gone door to door, searching for additional victims. The storm struck the 1st Baptist Church in Union during a church service. Worshippers evacuated to a safe area of the church, which lost a large portion of it's roof, but no one was injured.
The cleanup will be long and arduous in Hazelwood after a tornado reportedly touched down their during last night's storms. Strike teams from St. Charles County were called in to assist local authorities about 8:30 p.m. Fire crews from St. Charles and the City of St. Louis were also called in. Ground zero was near Howdershell and Lynn Haven. At least one person became trapped after a tornado tossed a large tree onto a home at Howdershell and Octavia. Several buildings were damaged in that area and police have closed the roads leading into the neighborhood. The good news: There have been no reports of serious injuries in Hazelwood.
Multiple Tornado Warnings were issued for St. Charles County. Projected paths included St. Peters, Cottleville, and St. Charles; 370 Park; and West Alton. Radar also indicated rotation between O’Fallon and Lake St. Louis, as well as in the area near Defiance. Power outages are minimal in St. Charles County, but there are other problems, including road closures. Highway 94 is blocked just east of Portage des Sioux because of downed power poles and wires. A spokesperson for the county says they're not sure when that will be cleared. Also there's water covering Hwy H at Hwy 94. Multiple utility lines down or arcing in Dardenne Prairie, St. Peters, O’Fallon, and unincorporated county. And lightning strikes were reported in Lake St. Louis, Dardenne Prairie, Cottleville, and unincorporated areas.
Damage is also being reported in the Hill neighborhood of South St. Louis. In the 5600 block of Columbia, two homes were heavily damaged. The roof was ripped off one home and strewn across the block, causing additional damage to cars and other homes.
Downed power lines mean the lights are out in several parts of the metro area. Ameren opened their Emergency Operations Center just after p.m. Wednesday. Utility officials say crews will work through the night, but many residents will remain without power until at least Thursday afternoon. Ameren will bring in additional crews Thursday morning.
As of 2:00 a.m, Ameren was reporting more than 30,000 Missouri customers without power - most of them in St. Louis County.
About 4,000 metro-east customers also remain in the dark.
Outages can be reported here.