ST. LOUIS (CN) – Tensions flared again Wednesday night, this time in south St. Louis city, after an off-duty St. Louis city police officer shot and killed a black man who police say shot at the officer first.
The shooting, almost two months to the day after Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, spurred an angry protest in south St. Louis streets.
Witnesses say at least 16 more shots were fired as police tried to control the scene.
As in the Brown shooting, the police officer involved in the latest shooting was white.
City police said the officer was working as a security guard for a company that was approved by the Police Department.
The 32-year-old officer, in full uniform, was conducting a pedestrian check when the suspect, whom St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson identified as VonDerrit Myers, began to run.
Dotson said Myers turned and fired at the officer three times. Myers returned fire and killed him, according to the police chief.
The officer was not hurt. Police said they recovered a gun from the scene.
Dotson said Myers was “no stranger” to police.
Even though Myers was allegedly armed, unlike Brown, who was not, an angry crowd quickly gathered, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go.” Several people damaged police cars.
Dotson said he was not happy with the damage to police vehicles, but said officers would show restraint as long as no businesses were damaged.
Dotson said no protesters were arrested.
Several tweets from media and protesters reported more shots being fired close by, mostly on Grand near the Missouri Botanical Garden in the city’s Shaw neighborhood. Police said they fired no additional shots.
Dotson said Ferguson protesters came to the city after the shooting. The Shaw neighborhood is 12 miles southeast of Ferguson.
“At the scene of yet another young man’s death,” tweeted St. Louis Alderman Antonio French. “This happens too often in our city. It’s a crisis that we should all be concerned about.”
The shooting frayed the already exposed nerves of a city torn apart by issues of race and the use of police force.
Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, sparking two months of constant, sometimes violent protests.
Recently, the protests have moved from Ferguson to venues such as Powell Symphony Hall and Cardinals playoff games.
The shooting in the Shaw neighborhood came just before the Ferguson protesters’ planned a series of demonstrations and protests around the St. Louis area this weekend, called the “Weekend of Resistance.” They are calling for an end to racial profiling and what they consider police violence.
The protests will start with a rally outside of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch’s office, who is investigating the Brown shooting. Protesters want McCulloch removed from the investigation and a special prosecutor to be appointed.
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