National Guard drill at south St. Louis gas station startles some residents

Alexis Zotos | News 4

One day after Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency ahead of the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown shooting, south St. Louis residents grew concerned when they saw the National Guard setting up at a lot behind the Quik Trip near the intersection of Chippewa and Gravois.

National Guard drill at south St Louis gas station startles some residents

“It’s strange and it doesn’t make it feel like home,” said Theresa Lear, who lives just one block away.

Another woman posted photos on Twitter of National Guard trucks and tactical gear, saying it made her rush home, concerned an announcement about the Grand Jury was about to be made.

News 4 learned it was all just a drill, a drill that had nothing to do with Ferguson or the grand jury decision.

Mike O’Connell, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Public Safety said the 7th Civil Support Team of the Missouri National Guard was conducting an exercise for a hazardous situation. O’Connell said it was planned nine months ago.

“The people from the exercise were proceeding without thinking what was going on,” said O’Connell.

The exercise was a part of federal training requirements ordered by the US Army, but O’Connell said the decision on the location was made at a “lower level” and when those higher up at the National Guard heard about the drill they told the civil support team to immediately end the exercise and leave the neighborhood.

“That’s not fair, it’s unsettling. Take it somewhere else,” said Lear.

The team packed up after 30 minutes.

Sharon Wolf, who works at the bar across the street from the Quik Trip and said she welcomed the sight of the National Guard.

“It was sort of comforting to see that, along with the customers, given all the civil disobedience it was comforting,” said Wolf.

O’Connell said the National Guard apologizes for any confusion they might have caused and said while they haven’t let residents know about drills in the past, it’s something they will consider doing in the future.

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