Father of suspect in St. Louis cop's killing: 'There are no excuses for what my son did'
Bill Forster said he has to let the justice system do what the system does and can't defend what his son Trenton did
By Christine Byers
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS — Since about 8 a.m. Thursday, Bill Forster has been trying to figure out how the little boy he taught to say, "Thank you for your service," to every police officer and veteran he met allegedly killed a policeman at the age of 18.
He remembers officers' telling him they wanted him to be the first to know that his son was in critical condition, that he had just shot and killed a police officer and that he had been shot.
His first question was whether the officer had a family. Yes, they told him. A wife and a 2-year-old son.
Forster's son Trenton was charged with first-degree murder after surviving four to five shots to his torso during the confrontation in the 10700 block of Arno Drive in Affton.
St. Louis County Police officers were responding after someone reported that Forster was knocking on the door to a home where a 16-year-old girl he knew lived. Officer Blake Snyder arrived first. Prosecutors say Trenton Forster shot him once at close range in the chin. A second officer then shot the 18-year-old.
Most of the hours since have been a blur for the Forster family. Bill Forster, 49, of St. Louis County, said he and his family had been in mourning and praying for Snyder's family.
"I am a Christian man and I believe in the sanctity of life, and what my son did is inexcusable," he said. "My heart bleeds for the family of Officer Snyder. I'm not looking to make excuses for my son. There are no excuses for what my son did.
"Now, I have to let the justice system do what the system does. I can't defend what Trenton did. The reality is, I lost my son not two days ago, but a long time before that."
Bill Forster, along with other Forster family members who did not want to be named, said Trenton Forster had struggled with drug addiction since the age of about 14, not long after he was involved in a car accident that left him with a head injury.
"He changed in an instant," Forster said of his son. "It turned our family upside down."
Forster and Trenton's mother are divorced. A phone call to Forster's ex-wife was not returned.
Trenton and his brother grew up in Hannibal, about 120 miles northwest of St. Louis. He played football and baseball, but as he started experimenting with drugs in his teens, he fell away from those sports and the discipline they brought to his life, his family said.
Bill Forster said he put his son in drug rehab programs that didn't seem to work; in-patient psychiatric counseling also didn't succeed. His ability to send his son to professionals for help ended when Trenton Forster turned 18 this year. He felt he was out of options.
Trenton frequently talked about suicide and wanting to get a gun, relatives said.
An aunt, who did not want to be named, waited until he was asleep one night last year to call police because she knew he had drugs in her house and she didn't know how else to get him out. The officer who shot Forster on Thursday was the same officer who arrested him that night a year ago.
His son recently went to live with his mother in Nashville, Tenn., but returned to St. Louis about a month ago.
Since returning to St. Louis, Trenton Forster was essentially homeless. His family said he had burned too many bridges with them. The aunt who lives in the home listed as his address in court documents said he hadn't lived there in a year.
Trenton's older brother, who lives in the St. Louis area, could not be reached for comment, but family members said he, too, was distraught from his brother's actions.
The family also issued on Friday a statement that described Trenton Forster as a "lost soul."
It read in part, "We are extremely sorry for Officer Snyder's wife and child and his entire family. We are praying for all of you. We apologize to the police community and the south county area where we grew up and appreciated as a safe place to call home. We can not believe Trenton would do something like this. ... The lives of all the families involved are forever changed. We pray for God to give the families involved easing of their sorrow and strength to continue forward."
Bill Forster said he and his family were unsure of what might lie ahead medically for Trenton Forster. Because he is in police custody, they said, they have been unable to get any medical information about him or visit him.
Relatives said they didn't know what they would say to him if they could see him. Family members said they always feared something bad, such as an overdose, would happen to him or that he might injure an innocent person while driving under the influence.
But they never dreamed he would kill a policeman.
He talked in social media postings of wanting to harm police officers — thoughts that "sickened" his father when, he said, he saw them on TV.
"I can't imagine the son I raised doing something like that," Forster said.
Forster said he and his family were "cooperating fully" with the police investigation, and Forster said he supported whatever punishment his son would face if convicted.
He paused when asked if he would support a death penalty for his son.
"I can't find an answer to that question," Bill Forster said. "Police officers are heroes, completely undeserving of the kind of actions that occurred here."