St. Louis man admits armed robbery of Jennings auto parts store

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ST. LOUIS – A man from St. Louis on Wednesday admitted robbing an auto parts store in Jennings and crashing into a funeral procession while trying to escape police.

Diven Steed, 27, admitted robbing the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in Jennings on Dec. 5, 2020. Steed was carrying a Pioneer Arms “Hellpup” AK-47-style pistol and his co-defendant, Collis Lee, also had a pistol.

Steed and Lee took cash from store registers. Lee pistol-whipped one clerk, and the other then offered the robbers his own money to distract them. When the clerks told the robbers that they could not open the time-locked safe, Lee pistol-whipped the injured clerk a second time, Steed’s plea agreement says.

While the robbers’ attention was focused on the two clerks, a customer slipped out of the store and asked employees of another store to call 911.

When Steed and Lee left the auto parts store, witnesses pointed them out to police, who had already begun to arrive in response to the 911 call. Lee and Steed drove off, but a short time later crashed into a limousine in a three-car funeral procession transporting grieving family members to a funeral home. Five people in the limousine were injured.

Steed got out of his vehicle and ran toward some homes, refusing officers’ orders to drop his gun and presenting a danger to officers and area residents, his plea says. An officer fired twice at Steed, hitting him in the buttocks.

Lee also ran, but tripped. Police found two guns, cash and coins between the two pairs of sweatpants he was wearing.

Steed pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Henry E. Autrey to a robbery charge and a charge of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16. The robbery charge carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the gun charge carries a mandatory seven-year term consecutive to any other charge.

Lee, 25, of Moline Acres, pleaded guilty to the same charges in December and was sentenced in March to 11 years and three months in prison.

The St. Louis County Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Dunkel is prosecuting the case.