Two police officers have been shot during a protest outside Ferguson Police Station, according to the St. Louis County Police chief, who said their injuries were “very serious.”
A 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder, Chief Jon Belmar told journalists at a press conference.
“These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers,” Belmar said.
The shooting broke out during the latest rally outside the police station on Thursday.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said a few dozen demonstrators fled following the sound of gunfire with some screaming, “They hit a cop.”
The St Louis County Police chief said at least three shots were fired during the rally. No suspects have yet been identified, he added.
A video has emerged featuring the moment the shots were fired. While it’s low-resolution and not much can be seen, the sounds of gunfire are distinctly heard, as well as the groaning of a man who was hit.
The protest outside the Ferguson Police Department began after Jackson’s resignation on Wednesday. He is the sixth city official to step down in the wake of a DoJ report last week lashing out at Ferguson’s courts and Police Department for racial prejudice.
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.
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.
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”.