Nathaniel Hendren is accused of firing the fatal bullet that killed off-duty St. Louis police officer Katlyn Alix, in what authorities allege was a round of reckless gunplay. He was working on duty as a police officer himself at the time.
Alix, 24, died after being shot in the chest inside a home. Police originally said that Alix’s death was an accidental shooting and initially withheld other specifics about what happened in the early morning hours.
On January 25, 2019, however, the officer who allegedly fired the bullet that killed Alix – Nathaniel Hendren, 29 – was identified and charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. Both charges are felonies.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nathaniel Hendren Is Accused of Playing With Firearms in a Game of Russian Roulette
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch labeled what happened in the home “Russian Roulette.”
The probable cause statement describes a scene of reckless gunplay. According to the probable cause statement, Hendren was accused of both a Class C and Class U felony.
The statement alleges that the defendant “met the victim at the defendant’s home. The defendant was on duty as an officer. The victim, also an officer, was off duty.”
“The victim and the defendant were playing with firearms when the defendant produced a revolver,” alleges the statement.
“The defendant emptied the cylinder of the revolver and then put one cartridge back into the cylinder. He spun the cylinder and pointed it away and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire at this point. The victim took the gun and then pointed the gun at the defendant and pulled the trigger. The gun still did not fire. The defendant took the gun back and pointed it at the victim pulled the trigger causing the gun to discharge. The victim was struck in the chest. The victim subsequently died from the gunshot wound to the chest.”
According to the probable cause statement, “The defendant’s partner was also present. He advised that he told the defendant and victim that they shouldn’t be playing with guns and that they were police officers. He felt uncomfortable with them playing with guns and didn’t want to have any part of it and he started to leave. As he left the room but before leaving the apartment he heard a shot. He went back into the room and saw that the victim had been shot in the chest.”
The circumstances surrounding the shooting were previously a bit murky. However, St. Louis police earlier released this information to Heavy:
“On 01/24/19, at 12:56 a.m., the officers responded to a call for an ‘Officer in Need of Aid’ in the 700 Block of Dover. Officer #3 advised the dispatcher that he and Officer #2 were conveying Officer #1 to a hospital relative to a gunshot wound. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Officer #1 was pronounced deceased.”
The police statement continued: “Preliminary investigation revealed that Officer #2 and Officer #3, who were on duty, met Officer #1, who was off-duty, at the residence in the 700 block of Dover. While seated in the living room of the apartment, Officer #2 mishandled a firearm and shot Officer #1 in the chest. The weapon was recovered at the scene. The Force Investigation Unit responded and is handing the ongoing investigation.”
A police press release further stated, “The Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis, is deeply saddened to announce the death of Police Officer Katlyn Alix. On January 24th, 2019, at approximately 12:56 a.m., officers responded to a call for an ‘Officer in Need of Aid’ in the 700 Block of Dover. Officers conveyed Officer Alix to a hospital relative to a gunshot wound, and shortly after arriving at the hospital, Officer Alix was pronounced deceased. Alix was 24 years old and off-duty at the time of this incident.”
2. Hendren Had Just Left Roll Call & Hadn’t Been on the Force for Long, Reports Say
On Facebook, the only post visible on Nate Hendren’s page, other than photos, is a joke about citizens and the Netflix show Birdbox, which you can see a screenshot of above.
The earlier police statement to Heavy gave this information about the officers. The man dubbed “officer 2” below is Hendren. According to the Post-Dispatch, a source said that Hendren, who was on duty when he allegedly shot Alix, had just left a police roll call. The house was about two miles from the area where he was supposed to be patrolling a district, the newspaper reported.
“I will hold people accountable who violate Missouri law,” Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a press conference.
Incident: Officer Involved Shooting
Location: 700 Block of Dover
Dates/Time: 1/24/19 @ 0056
Officer #1: Katlyn Alix, 24-year old White Female (St. Louis City Police Officer with 2 years of service)
Officer #2: 29-year old White Male (St. Louis City Police Officer with 1 year of service)
Officer #3: 29-year old White Male (St. Louis City Police Officer with nearly 2 years of service)
In a press conference before the charges came down, the police chief gave these details: “What’s going on is that two on-duty officers went by one of their homes. They were on duty. While they were at that particular home, an off-duty female officer came to that home. While they were there at that home there was, what we understand to be, an accidental discharge. The female off-duty officer was shot in the chest and she was brought to the hospital by those officers. Upon arrival shortly there after she was pronounced deceased.”
The St. Louis Police Department wrote on Twitter, “An SLMPD officer has been transported to an area hospital suffering from a gunshot wound. no information on a condition. We will provide additional information as it comes available.” Police followed that post with another that revealed the tragic news: “We are deeply saddened to announce that the officer transported to the hospital has succumbed to her injuries. We ask that you keep the officer’s family and the entire SLMPD in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of our officer and friend.”
3. Hendren Allegedly Head Butted a Windshield & Alix Graduated From the Police Academy in 2017
According to the Post-Dispatch, after the shooting, Hendren is accused of head-butting “the back windshield of a police SUV parked nearby, breaking it.” He was not seriously injured but was taken to a hospital.
Katlyn Alix was a fairly recent graduate of the police academy dating back to 2017. “Officer Alix entered the St. Louis Police Academy as a Civilian Recruit in Training in June of 2016. In January of 2017, she graduated and was commissioned a St. Louis Police Officer. During her career with the department, Officer Alix served in the Sixth District and at the time of her death she was assigned to the Second District as a patrolman,” police said in the news release.
A departmental Facebook post read, “Congratulations to Recruit Class 2016-02 on their completion of the St. Louis Police Academy. A graduation ceremony will be held tonight to honor their achievement. Look for the new police officers patrolling in your communities soon!” Her name was at the top of that list.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Alix was shot with a revolver that was not a service weapon. The Circuit Attorney tweeted a short statement on the shooting, writing, “A CAO prosecutor and two investigators responded to the officer-involved shooting scene this morning. We have opened an investigation into the matter.”
4. Hendren Was Previously Part of a High Profile Arrest of a Former Journalist
According to a Jan. 16, 2018 story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hendren made a high profile arrest of former KSDK-TV reporter and former Ferguson spokesman Jeffrey R. Small for alleged meth possession.
The article states that “St. Louis police Officer Nathaniel Hendren stopped Small’s vehicle in the 6500 block of Manchester Avenue on Jan. 6 because his front right headlight was out.”
According to the police press release, Alix was married. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her parents and sister.
A neighbor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she heard someone yell, “Oh, my God! Somebody help!” at the time of the shooting. Mayor Lyda Krewson wrote on Twitter after the shooting, “Terribly sad – blessings to her family, friends and the entire Slmpd community.”
The home where the shooting occurred is located in the Carondelet neighborhood. It’s not clear why the male officers were at the home if they were on duty. It’s also not clear why Katlyn Alix was there.
Chief John Hayden offered a memorial tribute to Alix on Twitter, saying, “Officer Alix was an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her.” The department’s Twitter page added, “In honor of Officer Katlyn Alix, members of the #SLMPD will be wearing the Department mourning band.”
In a press release, Hayden added, “Officer Alix was an enthusiastic and energetic young woman with a bright future ahead of her. On behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department, I extend my deepest sympathies to the Alix family during this extremely difficult time. I ask the St. Louis community to keep the Alix family and the entire Metropolitan Police Department in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn this tragic loss.”
5. Katlyn Served in the U.S. Military
KMOV-TV reports that Katlyn Alix served in the U.S. military. The television station ran a tribute quote to Katlyn on its Twitter page that read: “She served her community and her nation with dignity and courage both as a police officer and as a member of the military. That is how she lived, as a hero. And, for now, that is all anybody needs to know.”
A photo released by Alix’s family also showed her in a military uniform.
According to a Facebook page in her name, Alix once served as a military police officer.