Man who murdered East St. Louis Gus Gus Fun Bus operator gets 20 years in prison

ST. LOUIS, MO – United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry sentenced Curtis Alford to 20 years in prison today. The 22-year-old East St. Louis, Illinois resident pleaded guilty to one count of carjacking resulting in the death of Michael Arnold.

On June 16, 2018, Alford and his accomplice rushed up to two victims putting money in a parking meter. The victims were in St. Louis attending the ‘Taste of St. Louis’ event downtown. Alford sprayed the victims with pepper spray as he tried to grab their truck keys.  While Alford struggled with both victims, he grabbed one by the hair and neck, pulling her to the sidewalk. Alford then pulled the keys from her belt loop and got in her truck. One of the victims then attempted to stop Alford as he started the engine. He shoved her out of the way and began to pull away from the curb.

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“I definitely have animosity towards the defendant because he tried to either cause me serious harm or possibly even kill me, when all I was doing was standing there. I have never witnessed something like that before, somebody being murdered, even as a draftee during the Korean conflict,” said Harry Frye, Jr, who is one of Alford’s carjacking victims.

Michael Arnold, who witnessed the carjacking, was in the street near the truck and taking a picture of the incident. As Alford pulled away, Arnold tried moving out of the way, but Alford drove over him, pinning Mr. Arnold under the truck. Alford then dragged Mr. Arnold across the street, jumped the curb, hit another victim who had been walking on the sidewalk, struck a fire hydrant and then sped off. Alford picked up his accomplice around the corner and continued to speed away. As a group of pedestrians and two police officers gathered near the corner of Seventh Street and Chestnut, Alford sped in their direction, eventually crashing the truck. The officers and pedestrians had to scatter to avoid being hit. Officers immediately arrested Alford and his accomplice. Mr. Arnold suffered multiple, severe internal injuries and died days later of these injuries.

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“The loss of Mike is always with us and that will never change. This day is about what the defendant took from all of us. However, now we may be able to move past the criminal aspects of this terrible event,” said Mike Arnold’s wife, Suzanne Arnold. “More than anything, though, I hope we can remember all the beautiful things Mike was to us. Hopefully he gets the justice he deserves.”

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Arnold’s daughter Molly Arnold states, “My dad was such a major part of this community and of my family. It’s been over two years of trying to get past the responsibilities that came along with his death. When the pandemic required shutting down the courts, I felt like we’d been thrown back into uncertainty and this looming last loose end wouldn’t get tied up any time soon. It feels now like we can grieve the way we were meant to grieve.” Molly Arnold continues, “Thinking only of Dad and not worrying about whether we will see justice, if our statements are ready, and what our next steps have to be. I appreciate the love and the support that we’ve received from so many, and I appreciate that I find myself coming across kind words and happy memories even now. It has helped us to get through the hardest parts of this, and I’m so grateful for that. The fact that people still honor him over two years after his death is a true testament to the kind of person my father was. The love that he sowed reaches farther than I could have expected and it continues to grow through the community. It’s a legacy that most dream of.”

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“Our family has forever been changed for the worst and each person in our family has lost an important person to them since we lost Mike,” said Michael Arnold’s mom, Barbara Arnold.

U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen says, “My heart breaks for the Arnold Family and I greatly appreciate the cooperation of the other victims. This is a senseless tragedy.” Jensen goes on to say, “Curtis Alford deserves every day of his sentence.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Paul D’Agrosa is handling the case.