( 4UMF NEWS ) Shots Fired Amid Peaceful Protests In Ferguson:
Peaceful protests gave way to a tense standoff Sunday night after gunfire erupted in Ferguson, Mo., where demonstrators commemorated the one-year anniversary of the police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
Shots rang out in at least two places close to where the unarmed black 18-year-old was killed by a white police officer. Police reported break-ins at businesses. Four arrests were made overnight and police later cleared W. Florissant Ave. with smoke grenades.
But a gunman who opened fire on four plainclothes officers in an SUV suffered the only reported serious injury so far.
The police returned fire and hit the unidentified suspect, a male who is about 20 years old, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Monday. The shooter was in critical, unstable condition after the shootout, Belmar said.
The shooting was a “tragedy,” but the suspect and others firing guns near the anniversary demonstration “were criminals, they weren’t protesters,” Belmar told reporters.
“There is a small group of people out there that are intent on making sure that we don’t have peace that prevails,” he said.
Tyrone Harris told a reporter from the St. Louis Post Dispatch that his son, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr., was the wounded suspect. Harris went to Normandy High School with Michael Brown and the pair “were real close” his father said.
“We think there’s a lot more to this than what’s being said,” the father said just after his son got out of surgery at around 3 a.m.
Brown’s death, less than a month after Staten Island resident Eric Garner, 44, died following cop Daniel Pantaleo putting him in a banned chokehold, led to riots and a national “Black Lives Matter” movement.
On Sunday night, protesters and cops took cover behind cars and in buildings when the shots rang out just after 11 p.m. Two groups fired some 40 to 50 shots at each other, Belmar said.
Interim Ferguson Police Chief Andre Anderson was speaking on camera with reporters from local news station KMOV-TV when some of the shots were fired nearby.
“We’re trying to work with the community,” Anderson says in the footage. “We’re explaining to them their rights. And we just want to be as patient as possible.”
A reporter stammers through the next question as the shots pop off in the distance. The chief looks in the direction of the gunfire, ignoring the question. The camera then pans over to officers clad in body armor as they secure the perimeter.
Elsewhere on W. Florissant, the four detectives in the SUV noticed the gunman running away, according to the county police. When the officers drove toward him with their emergency lights on, he turned and fired on them, police say. They later found a stolen .9 mm semi-automatic gun on the scene, cops said.
Robbers broke into two businesses on W. Florissant and emptied out one of the store’s cash registers in the street, Belmar said. Police say a group also mugged a local journalist, who was hospitalized. The cops used smoke and tear gas to clear the road early Monday.
Protesters pepper-sprayed two police officers, and one officer was hospitalized after someone threw a rock at his face, police say.
The gunfire and unrest was in sharp contrast to the two doves that soared in the sky hours earlier above the spot where Brown died 12 months ago.
“Miss you,” said his dad, Michael Brown Sr., who led a somber march through Ferguson. The father also thanked everyone who turned out Sunday, saying their presence from the start prevented the case from getting “swept under the carpet.”
Brown was shot six times in a street scuffle with Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury cleared the cop, who resigned, of any criminal wrongdoing.