Michael Brown’s family condemns shooting of 2 officers in Ferguson

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SHARE Michael Brown’s family condemns shooting of 2 officers in Ferguson

UPDATED at 12:20 p.m. Check back for updates.

The family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose fatal shooting by a Ferguson police officer last year sparked widespread protests, is condemning the recent shooting of two Ferguson officers.

The family released a statement through their attorney, saying the shootings during a protest early Thursday were “senseless.” They say they won’t tolerate “any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement.”

Brown’s family also echoed sentiments by local activists denouncing the actions of “stand-alone agitators” who they say are trying to derail the nonviolent nationwide movement to address police brutality.

The family says its thoughts and prayers are with the officers and their families.

11:20 a.m.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, was “inexcusable and repugnant.”

Holder released a statement Thursday condemning violence against any public safety officials, calling it “cowardly.”

He cited the early morning shootings in Ferguson that wounded two officers, along with this week’s death of a deputy federal marshal in Louisiana and last week’s killing of an officer in Philadelphia.

Two police officers shot in Ferguson early Thursday morning

Holder says “such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that non-violent protesters in Ferguson and around the country” have been working toward for several months.

He says he hopes for the full and speedy recovery of the Ferguson officer, and said the U.S. Justice Department stands ready to assist in the investigation.

11 a.m.

Police have converged on a home in Ferguson and taken people in for questioning following the shootings of two police officers.

St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman says officers converged on the house Thursday. He said people were taken in for questioning, though other details weren’t immediately released.

Both officers were shot shortly after midnight during a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters. The officers have been released from the hospital. One was shot in the face, the other in the shoulder. Their names haven’t been released.

10:50 a.m.

A police spokesman says the two officers who were shot during a protest in Ferguson have been released from the hospital.

St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said Thursday that both officers have been released.

10:30 a.m.

Missouri’s governor is asking the public for help identifying who shot two police officers in Ferguson.

Gov. Jay Nixon says the officers were “intentionally targeted” during protests outside Ferguson’s police station. The governor says his thoughts and prayers are with the officers.

The Democrat says it’s imperative that anyone with information about the shooting to immediately come forward, “so that those who perpetrated these senseless crimes can be apprehended and brought to justice.”

Nixon says the Missouri State Highway Patrol is in contact with investigators with St. Louis County police and is ready to assist with the investigation.

Nixon says law enforcement officers risk their lives to protect the public, and he notes “the fact that these officers appear to have been intentionally targeted is deeply troubling.”

10 a.m.

Local and national civil rights leaders are condemning the shootings of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri.

John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist, says the “disgraceful and cowardly” attack was conducted by outside agitators who were intent on hijacking attention from protests that he says have produced meaningful reforms.

Gaskin says activists “cannot afford these kinds of incidents happening, because that gets us absolutely nowhere.”

One officer was shot in his face, the other in his shoulder, early Thursday morning during a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters following the resignation of the city’s police chief. Both officers are hospitalized.

A spokesman for the Rev. Al Sharpton says Sharpton is against violence of any kind, especially against police.

9:30 a.m.

St. Louis County’s top official says the shooting of two officers in Ferguson shouldn’t be a setback for the community’s healing process.

County Executive Steve Stenger says he supports residents expressing their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent way, and believes Ferguson residents are concerned about the officers.

He says, “I think everyone with reasonable minds would want to avoid situations like this.”

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters appeared to be winding down when the officers were shot just after midnight. He characterized the shooting as an “ambush.”

He says both officers “are good guys. I’m proud of them.”

9 a.m.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the two officers shot during a protest in Ferguson aren’t expected to have long-term injuries.

Belmar says one of the officers was shot in his face, just below his right eye and the bullet lodged behind his ear. The other officer was shot in his right shoulder, with the bullet leaving out his back.

Belmar says the shooting easily could have resulted in two deaths. He cited the two New York City officers who were ambushed in their police cruiser in December.

Belmar said, “we could have buried 2 police officers next week over this.”

8:45 a.m.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for “healing and reform” after the shooting of two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department.

The Missouri senator released a statement Thursday saying “acts of violence have no place in this process.”

Gunfire that erupted after midnight left a 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves with a facial wound and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County with a shoulder wound. Both were rushed to a hospital. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their injuries as serious.

The shootings followed a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.

McCaskill says she hoped for a “full recovery” for the officers and added that she was praying for them and their families.

8 a.m.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar is planning a news conference to further address the shooting of two police officers during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department.

A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder.

Belmar said earlier Thursday that the officers were taken to a hospital, where they are conscious, but that both are seriously injured.

He is scheduled to speak again at 9 a.m. at the St. Louis County Police Headquarters.

The shootings happened after midnight as demonstrators gathered after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.

FERGUSON, Mo. — Two officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday, authorities said, as demonstrators gathered after the resignation of the city’s police chief in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.

A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference. Both were taken to a hospital, where Belmar said they were conscious. He said he did not have further details about their conditions but described their injuries as “serious.”

“I don’t know who did the shooting, to be honest with you,” Belmar said, adding that he could not provide a description of the suspect or gun.

He said his “assumption” was that, based on where the officers were standing and the trajectory of the bullets, “these shots were directed exactly at my officers.”

The shots were fired shortly after midnight as protesters were gathered following the resignation of embattled Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Wednesday. Before the shooting, some at the protest were chanting to show they weren’t satisfied with the resignations of Jackson and City Manager John Shaw earlier in the week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Authorities from multiple agencies had gathered outside of the department.

The protest was a familiar scene in Ferguson, which saw similar and much larger demonstrations after the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer by city police officer Darren Wilson. When Wilson, who is white, was cleared in November by a state grand jury, the decision set off further protests, looting and fires. But Wednesday was the first time an officer at a protest had been shot.

MORE ON THE STORY About 150 protesters had gathered outside the department following the resignation of Ferguson’s police chief in the wake of the Justice Department’s blistering report prompted by the shooting death of Michael Brown in August.

Marciay Pitchford, 20, was among the protesters outside the police department. She told The Associated Press the protest had been mostly peaceful until she heard the shots ring out.

“I saw the officer go down and the other police officers drew their guns while other officers dragged the injured officer away,” Pitchford said. “All of a sudden everybody started running or dropping to the ground.”

Belmar said the shots were fired from across the street from the police department.

After the shooting, officers with guns and in riot gear circled the station, and more than a dozen squad cars blocked the street.

Jackson was the sixth employee to resign or be fired after a Justice Department report last week cleared Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting. Wilson has since resigned. A separate Justice Department report released the same day found a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias in the city police department.

Mayor James Knowles III announced Wednesday that the city had reached a mutual separation agreement with Jackson that will pay Jackson one year of his nearly $96,000 annual salary and health coverage. Jackson’s resignation becomes effective March 19, at which point Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will become acting chief while the city searches for a replacement.

Jackson had previously resisted calls by protesters and some of Missouri’s top elected leaders to step down over his handling of Brown’s shooting and the weeks of protests that followed. He was widely criticized from the outset, both for an aggressive police response to protesters and for his agency’s erratic and infrequent releases of key information.

He took nearly a week to publicly identify Wilson as the shooter and then further heightened tension in the community by releasing Wilson’s name at the same time as store security video that police said showed Brown stealing a box of cigars and shoving a clerk only a short time before his death.

During a 12-minute news conference, Knowles said Jackson resigned after “a lot of soul-searching” about how the community could heal from the racial unrest stemming from the fatal shooting last summer.

“The chief is the kind of honorable man you don’t have to go to,” Knowles said. “He comes to you when he knows that this is something we have to seriously discuss.”

The acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division released a statement saying the U.S. government remains committed to reaching a “court-enforceable agreement” to address Ferguson’s “unconstitutional practices,” regardless of who’s in charge of the city.

Jackson oversaw the Ferguson force for nearly five years before the shooting that stirred months of unrest across the St. Louis region and drew global attention to the predominantly black city of 21,000.

In addition to Jackson, Ferguson’s court clerk was fired last week and two police officers resigned. The judge who oversaw the court system also resigned, and the City Council on Tuesday agreed to a separation agreement with Shaw, the city manager.

Photos from the aftermath:

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Police mobilize in the parking lot of the Ferguson Police Station after two police officers were shot. | AP Photo

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Police mobilize in the parking lot of the Ferguson Police Station after two police officers were shot. | AP Photo

https://vine.co/v/O9ilgnYBUrW

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Police guard the corner off Adams Street and South Florissant Road after two officers were shot. | AP Photo

From the protest earlier:

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A passing commuter argues with demonstrators as her car is denied access down the street during a protests. | Getty Images

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A demonstrator is detained and arrested during the protest. | Getty Images

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A St. Louis County Police officer stands alert in riot gear during Wednesday’s protests. | Getty Images

Brandon Wall contributed to this report.

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