FERGUSON, MO. (CN) – A night of peaceful protests in Ferguson, Mo. turned violent Wednesday as police shot a 19-year-old man around 1 a.m., prompting city leaders to ask for protests to be contained to daylight hours. Police said the man pointed a handgun at officers at an intersection where tear gas had been deployed an hour earlier to disperse a protest.
Brian Schellman, St. Louis County police spokesman, said the man was in critical condition.
Also Wednesday, the FBI issued a warning that a Black Panther leader is in St. Louis and is threatening violence against police.
Schellman said police got a call reporting four to five men in the area with shotguns and wearing ski masks, and reports of shots being fired in the area.
Schellman said police office arrived and saw multiple subjects running.
Schellman said officers hadn’t seen anyone with shotguns, but when an officer approached one of the men, the man pulled a gun on the officer, who shot him multiple times.
The handgun was recovered at the scene and the man’s name was not released.
About 12:20 a.m., a woman was shot in the head at Highmont and West Florissant, just a few blocks south of the police shooting. Police said it appeared to be a drive-by shooting and it was unclear whether it was related to the protests.
Tensions have been running high in Ferguson, pop. 21,135, a working class suburb in north St. Louis County, since police shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday. Residents and activist groups have been protesting their treatment by the Ferguson police department.
Many residents say distrust has been boiling for years. They point out that only three of Ferguson’s 53 police officers are African-American, whereas Ferguson’s population is almost 65 percent African-American.
After the violence early Wednesday, Ferguson leaders issued a statement urging protestors to limit their activities to daylight hours. (See earlier coverage).
“We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” Mayor James W. Knowles III posted on the city website.
“We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community. Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours. These events are not indicative of the City of Ferguson and its residents.”
(CNS reporter Joe Harris (@Joeharris_stl) will be tweeting updates from Ferguson as they occur.)
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