After A Service Centered On Peace, More Violence In Ferguson
Updated at 8:45 a.m. to confirm officer-involved shooting.
After a night of tense but peaceful protest, two shootings were reported in Ferguson early Wednesday morning. It was not yet clear whether the shootings were related to the protests.
Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, a St. Louis County officer shot and critically injured a man authorities say pointed a gun at officers. The officer is on administrative leave per department protocol. A county spokesman did not have any additional information about the officer.
In an unrelated incident shortly after midnight Wednesday, a woman was shot in the head west of WestFlorissantAvenue, St. Louis County police confirmed. Police said they were looking for four men driving a white sedan. Ferguson police are handling that investigation.
The violence occurred after a night of largely tense, but peaceful protest. Many of the demonstrators approached police after attending a service put on by Michael Brown’s parents and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The service packed St. Mark's Family Church, with hundreds of people attending. The crowd skewed older, at least until some young people protesting down the road entered halfway through the service.
The focus of the gathering was to calm a community that has experienced a great deal of tragedy in the past few days. On Saturday, an unarmed 18 year old African American teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed by police, revealing overlooked racial tensions in Ferguson.
Brown’s parents have begged for the protests to be peaceful.
“Respect the family!” Sharpton said at the service. “They haven’t even buried their son — don’t go out there and start stuff in his name.”
Sharpton asked for 100 young men to step forward as “Disciples of Justice,” to keep the peace in the area, he said.
“We’re not saying all cops are bad, most of them aren’t,” Sharpton said. “But those who are bad should be dealt with just like those in our community that are bad.”
After an offering plate was passed around for the Brown family and the service had concluded, many people stuck around and peacefully protested outside the church.
Meanwhile, just a mile away at the smoldering remains of the Quik Trip on West Florissant, police were in a tense standoff with demonstrators. At the time, there were a couple dozen protesters standing just yards away from a line of police with two armored vehicles.
The protesters outside of the church made their way down Florissant and joined the group at the Quick Trip, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
One man repeatedly shouted “Is this the Gaza Strip?”
The demonstrators at the head of the group urged the rest to refrain from confronting the police.
“We have to stand together,” one protester yelled into a megaphone. “Don’t lose the message. They want us to cross that line, they want to lock us up, they want us to fight one another. But we have to respect Michael Brown.”
After inching forward for a bit, the group eventually marched back down Florissant without either side escalating.
But the peace apparently did not last.
As the organized group headed out, pockets of activity remained throughout the area. Around midnight, shots rang out. Later, police used tear gas on some that remained outside.
So far, police believe the woman was shot in a drive-by shooting, but that she will live.
Will be updated.
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