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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

St. Louis Prayer Vigil Erupts Into Violence and Arrests

ST. LOUIS (CN) - A police officer was injured, windows were broken and arrests were made when violence broke out after a prayer vigil Thursday in south St. Louis, the night after a black teenager was shot to death by a white off-duty police officer.

The officer was injured at around 10:15 p.m. Dozens of police rushed to the scene in riot gear and formed a skirmish line with billy clubs and pepper spray.

The police ordered the crowd of about 100 to leave.

Protesters burned an American flag, threw a brick threw a Medicine Shoppe window and through the window of a nearby home.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said eight people were arrested and that a knife and brick had been thrown at officers.

Vonderitt Myers Jr. was fatally shot Wednesday night by an off-duty officer moonlighting as a security guard.

Police said Myers shot at the officer first, while running away from a pedestrian check.

The officer returned fire, shooting 17 times, killing Myers.

The protesters, many from the Ferguson protests, descended on the area in the hours after the Myers' shooting and returned Thursday.

Thursday night began with two prayer vigils, one at the shooting scene and one at a nearby church.

The leaders prayed for safety, for the Myers family, and for God to help channel protesters' questions and anger toward positive change.

Several protesters told the Post-Dispatch they did not believe the police version of events.

Tensions between the public and police have been high in the St. Louis area since Michael Brown was shot to death on Aug. 9. Brown, an unarmed teenaged black male, was gunned down by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The shooting spurred two months of sometimes violent protests. Protesters are demanding and end to police violence and for criminal charges to be brought against Wilson.

The Myers shooting appears to have drawn many of the protesters from Ferguson to the Shaw Neighborhood of south St. Louis, which is 12 miles southeast of Ferguson.

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