On July 2, a car occupied by white males drove through a black area of the city and fired several shots into a standing group. An hour later police detectives were driving through the same area and black residents, assuming they were the original suspects, opened fire on their car, killing both detectives. On July 2, thousands of white spectators who assembled to view the detectives' bloodstained automobile marched into the black section of town and started rioting. After cutting the hoses of the fire department, the rioters burned entire sections of the city and shot inhabitants as they escaped the flames. Claiming that "Southern negros deserve a genuine lynching," they lynched several blacks. Guardsmen were called in but accounts exist that they joined in the rioting rather than stopping it. More joined in, including allegedly "ten or fifteen young girls about 18 years old, [who] chased a negro woman at the Relay Depot at about 5 o'clock. The girls were brandishing clubs and calling upon the men to kill the woman."[ Men, women, and children were beaten and shot to death. Around six o’ clock that evening, white mobs began to set fire to the homes of black residents. Residents had to choose between burning alive in their homes, or run out of the burning houses, only to be met by gunfire. In other parts of the city, white mobs began to lynch African Americans against the backdrop of burning buildings. As darkness came and the National Guard returned, the violence began to wane, but did not come to a complete stop. The police chief estimated that 200 blacks had been killed. The renowned journalist Ida B. Wells reported in The Chicago Defender that 40-150 black people were killed during July in the rioting in East St. Louis. Six thousand blacks were left homeless after their neighborhood was burned. The ferocious brutality of the attacks and the failure of the authorities to protect innocent lives contributed to the radicalization of many blacks in St. Louis and the nation.