Two officers shot at protest outside Ferguson police station
TWO officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department early yesterday, authorities said, as demonstrators gathered after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.
A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder, St. Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, said at a news conference. Both were taken to a hospital, where Belmar said they were conscious. He said he did not have further details about their conditions but described their injuries as “serious.”
“I don’t know who did the shooting, to be honest with you,” Belmar said, adding that he could not provide a description of the suspect or gun.
He said he assumed, based on where the officers were standing and the trajectory of the bullets, that “these shots were directed exactly at my officers.”
The shots were fired shortly after midnight as protesters gathered following the resignation of embattled Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson on Wednesday. Before the shooting, some at the protest chanted to show their dissatisfaction with the resignations of Jackson and City Manager John Shaw this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities from multiple law enforcement agencies also assembled at the scene.
The protest was a familiar scene in Ferguson, which saw similar and much larger demonstrations after the shooting to death of Black 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer by city police officer, Darren Wilson. A state grand jury cleared Wilson, who is White, in November, sparking further protests, looting and fires. But yesterday morning was the first time an officer at a protest had been shot.
In amateur video accessed by the Associated Press, two shots ring out and a man is heard screaming out in pain.
Someone at the scene, unseen and unidentified in the video, says: “Acknowledgement nine months ago would have kept that from happening.”
Marciay Pitchford, 20, was among the protesters. She told the AP that the protest had been mostly peaceful until she heard the shots.
“I saw the officer go down and the other police officers drew their guns while other officers dragged the injured officer away,” Pitchford said. “All of a sudden, everybody started running or dropping to the ground.”
Belmar said the shots were fired from across the street from the police department.
After the shooting, officers with guns and in riot gear circled the station, and more than a dozen squad cars blocked the street.
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