A St. Louis County police officer reportedly shot an armed man in Ferguson, Mo., after police responded to reports of shots being fired early Wednesday.
The incident, which left the man critically wounded, took place near the area where protesters have rallied after a Ferguson police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. But as St. Louis Public Radio notes, it’s not yet clear whether the shooting was related to the protests.
From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
“Police said they received a call reporting about four to five men in the area armed with shotguns and wearing ski masks. They also got reports of shots fired in the area. Police officers arrived and saw ‘multiple subjects running,’ said police spokesman Officer Brian Schellman.
“An officer approached one of the men and he pulled a handgun on the officer who then fired, Schellman said.”
The shooting followed another night of protests over the killing of Brown, 18, who was shot to death Saturday afternoon. Since then, both the St. Louis County Police and the FBI have begun investigations, and rival versions of Brown’s death have emerged, with police and some witnesses disagreeing on key points.
The protests turned violent Sunday night, with looters breaking into shops and burning down a convenience store. The controversy has also heightened racial tensions in a town whose population is two-thirds black and whose police force reportedly has three black members.
Tuesday night, dozens of protesters chanted what has become a familiar phrase in Ferguson: “Hands up; don’t shoot” — a reference to witnesses’ statements that Brown had his hands up when the fatal shots were fired.
As NPR’s David Schaper reports from St. Louis, last night’s demonstrations were met with police in riot gear and armored vehicles who urged them to disperse.
“Everybody’s peaceful at this point, nobody’s bothering anybody. What do they do? They come out here with guns,” Rashawn Peterson, 31, tells David in a report for today’s Morning Edition. “And they looked like they were going to shoot somebody. And we’ve got children over here. Children. Women. Innocent people bothering nobody.”
David says, “The crowd did peacefully move on to another location, though the racially charged tension remained thick.”
Many of the protesters gathered outside St. Mark Family Church, where Michael Brown’s parents and the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about his death and attended a church service.
“Respect the family!” Sharpton told those present. “They haven’t even buried their son — don’t go out there and start stuff in his name.”
Earlier Tuesday, Michael Brown Sr. spoke about his son in downtown St. Louis, saying he knew that the community in Ferguson was in pain.
“But I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way,” he said, “so we can get something done about this. No violence.”