Ferguson Shooting: Police Stepped in After Rival Groups Began Shooting at Each Other; One Man Who Shot at Police is Now in Critical Condition


St. Louis County police officers shot and critically injured a man who fired at them here late Sunday night, the authorities said, setting this region on another tense and uncertain course on the same day that hundreds gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white officer.

The shooting came after rival groups began shooting at each other on the west side of West Florissant Avenue, the center of the Ferguson protests, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department said. Chief Belmar said that there had been two more shootings in the area, and that the police had used smoke canisters.

The injured man, who was not publicly identified, was part of one of the rival groups, the chief said, and four plainclothes officers saw him running across a parking lot on the opposite side of the avenue.

The officers drove their unmarked sport utility vehicle, with its interior lights flashing, toward him, and he opened fire on the car, Chief Belmar said. The police returned fire from inside the car and then chased the man on foot, he said. Dozens of gunshots were fired, and all four officers shot back and hit the man, who fell to the ground, he said.

A gun that the police recovered from the shooting victim was a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer that was reported stolen last year, the authorities said. Chief Belmar said that the four detectives who had shot the man had from six to 12 years of experience, but he declined to provide information about their race.

The shooting, on an otherwise peaceful day, was another vexing turn for activists and the authorities alike. It was the second consecutive night of gunfire on West Florissant Avenue.

“They were criminals; they weren’t protesters,” Chief Belmar said of the groups exchanging gunfire. “Protesters are the people out there talking about a way to effect change. We can’t afford to have this kind of violence, not only on a night like this, but any point in time if we’re going to move forward in the right direction.”

The flash of violence signaled a cruel end to a day that in many ways had seemed festive and hopeful, with activists from across the country descending on Ferguson to push for changes in the police treatment of blacks. Under the humid daylight, people spoke with renewed vigor of the movement that was started after Mr. Brown, 18, was shot and killed here by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

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The New York Times

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