Jeffrey Amick's Ruined Dreams

Renovating this house on Indiana Avenue was part of Jeffrey Amick's plans for a bright future.
Renovating this house on Indiana Avenue was part of Jeffrey Amick's plans for a bright future. DOYLE MURPHY

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click to enlarge Joshua Lundak revamped the old Shanti into Henry's in Soulard. - DOYLE MURPHY
Joshua Lundak revamped the old Shanti into Henry's in Soulard.

The warehouse still has the guts of the old Chevy dealership, including an interior car ramp and garage space. Joshua Lundak, the man who would ultimately kill Amick, used the space to work on his collection of old cars and other projects.

The 39-year-old considered himself pretty handy. In that way, he and Amick were similar. After taking over the Shanti in Soulard, Lundak completely renovated the old hippie bar and renamed it Henry's, a family name on his mother's side. It was common to see him on the back patio, crawling over the summer roof with an electric drill or reworking the outdoor bar. He hauled in an old Corvair and an out-of-commission sailboat and turned them into Instagram-ready seating booths for Soulard's late-night meat market.

Impressions of Lundak from friends, fellow bar owners, Henry's patrons and former employees vary wildly.

"I know Josh," says Tiffany Hutchinson, who used to own a south-city bar. "I know he's a good guy."

Luke Reynolds, who owns Molly's a few blocks from Henry's, is good friends with Lundak. Aside from being a fellow bar owner, he lived for a time in a loft apartment at the warehouse on Jefferson. "Josh is not a violent person," he says. "If he did do this, it's hard for me to believe."

But others say Lundak could be volatile. One regular recalls him berating and even firing employees in front of customers. A 24-year-old woman who tended bar at Henry's says he was a nightmare as a boss.

"He cycles through bartenders like nobody's business," says the woman, who asked the RFT to withhold her name. "He was cruel to me and to other employees. He cursed at me and accused me of stealing. My experience was not an isolated one. Every other bartender experienced similar treatment."

She added: "He mentioned on a couple of occasions that I did not bring in as much revenue as my coworker because I wouldn't take my shirt off. He's a bad guy, straight up. He's a bad man."

One incident in particular stands out in the context of the shooting outside the warehouse. The woman says she was working after midnight one morning when the sound of gunshots rang out across the street. Lundak pulled a gun from his waistband and ran outside, she says.

"He came back in with his shirt off, crazed-looking," the woman says. "He hadn't actually seen anything, but he had his shirt off, gun out, and was running around. It was very strange."

click to enlarge Joshua Lundak in a booking photo. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS POLICE
Joshua Lundak in a booking photo.

After killing Amick, Lundak took off. In court records, a detective writes that the bar owner told an off-duty police officer he shot someone. He was advised to turn himself in but refused, and the detective worried he was a flight risk, given that he had boats in Miami and a number of properties.

For more than two weeks, Lundak remained on the loose. The killing initially got little media attention. It happened during a weekend of more than twenty shootings in St. Louis and seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Lundak was still in the wind on June 10 when the circuit attorney filed charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, but that too went virtually unnoticed, overshadowed by that day's funeral of a retired police officer shot outside a pawn shop by looters in north city.

In an interview on June 19, Lundak's attorney Scott Rosenblum tells the RFT his client was just "getting his affairs in order" and would surrender "any day."

"When it's all said and done, I feel pretty confident in the defense," Rosenblum adds, declining to go into detail.

Finally, on June 23, Lundak turned himself in at St. Louis police headquarters. He's in jail without bond.

It's not clear what led to the confrontation between him and Amick, or if the men even knew each other.

Additional attorneys for Lundak sent a neighboring business a demand for 30 days of surveillance footage leading up to the June 5 shooting, apparently searching for any previous incidents involving Amick and the warehouse. In his lawsuit, Amick claimed Carter was telling people that he was selling drugs out of 2401 Indiana to make him look bad. He had little left by then. His criminal history had made navigating the path toward becoming a lawyer all but impossible, and he had grown disillusioned with the renovation. At one time, he thought he might live there, because he liked the neighborhood and his grandmother used to live nearby.

But code violations meant he wasn't even technically allowed to go inside the building anymore. The city boarded it up.

Amick slept on friends' couches some nights or slipped back into the house and stayed in the shell of what had once seemed like such a vibrant dream. In his lawsuit, he writes that he fell into a "tragic depression" as his plans crumbled.

"For the most part, plaintiff was couch surfing, because he couldn't live in his own home and many times when he couldn't find somewhere to sleep, he'd find a place to park and sleep in his car," he writes.

click to enlarge Jeffrey Amick was killed in the alley between his property and Jefferson Underground. - DOYLE MURPHY
Jeffrey Amick was killed in the alley between his property and Jefferson Underground.

Some nights, he would build a fire in the backyard and sit there in his lawn chair.

Amick had determined that he would give up on the house and sell it — never to Carter, but to someone who could take over the renovation. The duplex would be someone else's project.

He wrote the real estate listing himself in typical fashion, advising potential buyers not to waste his time with any "low ball offers" or "silliness." It's a defiant, if somewhat defeated, note. He concludes with a description of what he loves about the house — the history, its "unique architectural design" and location on a corner lot.

"It sits directly behind Jefferson Underground," he writes, "which is an event venue and they have rooftop music that can be heard from the backyard on the weekends up until the evening and sets a good ambiance for just sitting up some chairs and relaxing in the backyard."

Ryan Krull is a freelance journalist and assistant teaching professor in the department of communication and media at UMSL

About The Authors

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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