“These police officers were standing there, and they were shot–just because they were police officers,” Belmar told reporters.
The above video was purportedly taken last night as 60-70 protesters gathered around the Ferguson, Missouri police station, the same day that Ferguson Chief of Police Thomas Jackson announced his resignation. Jackson had been pressured to resign as a result of a Department of Justice investigation which found that Ferguson law enforcement had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against the Black community there which included making stops and arrests in order to make money from fines and fees.
The three shots were fired just after midnight, reportedly from a nearby hill. Neither officer was stationed in Ferguson. One was from the St. Louis County force and the other was a Webster Groves officer. The shooter has not been identified. Both officers are in stable condition.
The Webster Groves officer was shot in the face. He is 32 and has been on the force five years.
The county officer was hit in the shoulder. That officer is 41 and has been in law enforcement for 14 years.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 12, 2015
Police plan to hold a press conference at 10am today. St. Louis Police Chief Belmar seems to believe that officers had been lucky this hadn’t happened previously.
“But I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” he added. “That’s not an indictment of everybody that’s expressing their First Amendment rights but we have seen in law enforcement that this is a very, very, very dangerous environment for officers to work in regarding the amount of gunfire that we have experienced up there.”
Some city officials were concerned that this shooting might lead to more violence.
Ferguson Councilwoman Kim Tihen, woke to the news that two officers had been shot.
“I’m concerned about escalating violence, especially against our officers,” she said. “They’ve endured so much stress already.”
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 12, 2015
St. Louis Dispatch reporter Susan Weich describes the general tone of the protests prior to the shootings as follows.
The protesters seemed to be two camps. The first were there to make a point that they weren’t satisfied with the resignations of City Manager John Shaw and Police Chief Thomas Jackson. They were chanting in unison.
The other one was volatile, angry, hurling profanities at the police, media and other protesters. Some skirmishes broke out among the factions.