As Tensions Rise, Two Police Officers Are Shot At Near Ferguson

It’s only been a few hours since two police officers were shot at in two separate instances in and around Ferguson, Missouri, and the search is on to find the suspects. As of now, police do not believe either incident was related to ongoing protests over the death of Mike Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.
Both shootings happened late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, while protests over Brown’s death continued to escalate in the St. Louis suburb. Neither shooting, however, occurred near the protest site, and neither resulted in the death of an officer.

The first incident on Saturday night involved a Ferguson police officer who had reportedly confronted two suspects trying to break into a business in a town called Dellwood, located on the border of Ferguson. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report, the two suspects ran away, and one shot the officer in the arm.

In a separate incident early Sunday morning, an unknown number of gunmen fired shots at an off-duty St. Louis city police officer while he was driving his car on Missouri’s Interstate 70. The officer was not shot, but he was injured by shards of glass from a shattered car window.
Both St. Louis County police and local crime reporters are cautioning people not to try and make a connection to the ongoing demonstrations. “While terrifying, non-fatal shootings are common. Especially on Saturday nights,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nicholas J.C. Pistor tweeted early Sunday. “Any reporter who has covered night police beat can tell you.”

As German Lopez at Vox points out, the demonstrations re-escalated in the wake of two events: the burning of a community-made memorial for Brown near the site of the shooting, and an apology from Ferguson’s police chief that many felt was too little, too late.

The attempted shooting of two police officers near the Ferguson area threatens to further the already strained relationship between Ferguson’s black residents and its mostly-white police force. Just yesterday, the Department of Justice had to tell Ferguson Police to stop wearing bracelets supporting the officer who killed Mike Brown, and stop hiding their name tags, saying both acts contribute to the “us vs. them” mentality that has contributed to chaos in the area. Still, at least one protester on the ground Saturday said officers were still not wearing their name tags.

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, many protesters said they didn’t quite trust the St. Louis County police department’s accounts of what happened. Indeed, police later said their initial account of two suspects in the Dellwood incident may have been incorrect. At the same time, conservative blogs began spreading news of a Ferguson protester who, in the wake of the Dellwood shooting, said she hoped the officer died.

More than a month after the shooting of Mike Brown, the officer who killed him hasn’t been charged, and protesters say civil unrest will continue until the officer is held accountable.

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