A man who fired at police during protests in Ferguson is in a critical condition after being wounded in a gun battle with officers, St. Louis county police chief says.
FERGUSON, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 10, 2015) (NBC) – A man who opened fire on police in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday (August 9) was gravely wounded in an ensuing gun battle with officers, the St. Louis county police chief said, after rallies commemorating the killing of Michael Brown last year turned violent.
The man was hospitalised in a critical, unstable condition and was undergoing surgery, Chief Jon Belmar told reporters on Monday (August 10).
“He engaged the officers at the time, there were four officers in that van, all four fired the suspect and the suspect fell there. Suspect is in the local hospital, he is in critical, unstable condition in surgery,” Belmar told a news conference.
He said one officer was treated for cuts to his face after being hit by a brick near the spot where Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, was shot dead by a white policeman last year.
Police earlier said two people had been struck by gunfire in the midst of a late-night confrontation between riot police and protesters, after a day of peaceful events to commemorate Brown.
Gunshots erupted as police sought to disperse demonstrators who began blocking traffic and smashing windows along a street that was a flashpoint of last year’s unrest following the shooting.
The commemorations had begun with a quiet march through the St. Louis suburb following a moment of silence.
The scene changed dramatically after dark with dozens of protesters blocking traffic and smashing store windows along West Florissant Avenue, and chanting “Shut it down” in the midst of a severe thunderstorm.
Helmeted police wearing body armor and carrying shields moved in. Protesters briefly fell away before regrouping to confront the line of officers, who ordered them to disperse.
Multiple store windows were smashed and police stood atop vehicles surveying the scene, which unfolded around the corner from where Brown was shot a year earlier.
Police said at least two unmarked police cars had been hit by gunshots.
Brown’s death, and a grand jury decision to spare Darren Wilson, the officer who shot him, from criminal charges sparked a prolonged wave of demonstrations in Ferguson last year that boiled over into rioting and arson at times and spawned sympathy rallies across the country.
It also sparked greater scrutiny of racial bias within the U.S. criminal justice system, giving rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that gained momentum from a series of other high-profile slayings of unarmed minorities by white police in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Cincinnati.