FERGUSON, Mo. - Police in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday have asked protesters to peacefully rally only during daylight hours following another night of unrest in the St. Louis suburb. The plea comes after an officer shot and critically wounded a man who police say pointed a handgun at the officer early Wednesday in Ferguson, where the fatal shooting of an unarmed young black man by an officer has triggered demonstrations, street clashes and looting.
A woman was also shot in the head and wounded during the area’s sporadic street demonstrations overnight, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told the Los Angeles Times.
The officer-involved shooting, which occurred at 1 a.m. CDT, occurred near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Chambers Road, close to the site of protests against police in the shooting of Michael Brown, said Officer Brian Schellman, spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department.
St. Louis police received a call that four people wearing ski masks and armed with shotguns were in the area and at the same time several calls were made to police about shots fired in the area, according to a statement from police.
“When officers arrived, multiple subjects began running from the scene. One officer encountered a subject who brandished a handgun, pointing it directly at the officer. Fearing for his safety and the safety of others in the area, the officer fired shots, striking the subject.” the police statement said. “The subject was transported to a local hospital, where as of this writing, he is listed in critical condition. The subject’s handgun was recovered by police at the scene.”
No other details were released, Schellman said.
Following the shooting, Ferguson police issued a statement asking “any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or protest to do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner” and to disperse “well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and community.” ’Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt the peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days.”
In the incident involving the woman, local media reported that she was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting near the Ferguson QuikTrip gas station that had been looted and burned over the weekend and which has become a gathering point for demonstrators this week.
She was conscious after being shot and called 911 herself, Jackson said. He was not able to provide further details, saying that he hadn’t been briefed yet. Police were reportedly seeking four to five men.
Racial tensions have simmered since the Saturday shooting of Brown. Ferguson is a working-class suburb of 21,000, where two-thirds of residents are black but police and city officials are predominantly white.
Throughout Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, scores of demonstrators faced off with riot police in Ferguson, with some protesters leaving peacefully and others being forced away by tear gas.
The street demonstrations followed a packed church meeting Tuesday night in Ferguson, in which Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who is white, told area residents and civic leaders he wanted an “open, thorough and fair” investigation into Michael Brown’s death, adding, “In the face of crisis, we must keep calm.
“As a father of two sons, I’ve prayed for the parents and loved ones of Michael Brown,” Nixon said in his remarks. “We stand together tonight, reeling from what feels like an old wound that has been torn open afresh.”
Nixon spoke at a second packed community forum and called for reconciliation and healing “while remaining uncompromising in our expectation that justice must not simply be pursued, but in fact achieved.”
The father of the young man who was killed, Michael Brown Sr., said: “I need all of us to come together and do it right, the right way, so we can get something done about this. No violence.”