WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two police officers were shot at, leaving one wounded, in the city of Ferguson, where the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen triggered race riots and national outrage.
Saint Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said a bullet struck one officer on foot patrol in his left arm around 9.10pm Saturday (0410 GMT Sunday).
The officer had been conducting a business check at the Ferguson Community Centre when he noticed the male suspect and tried to ask him why he was there. The suspect then ran away.
“The officer initiated a foot pursuit of the subject. During the foot pursuit, the subject spun toward the officer armed with a handgun, and fired shots at the officer,” Schellman said in a statement.
“The officer returned fire at the suspect, however there is no indication at this time that the suspect was struck by return gun fire from the officer.”
In this frame grab image courtesy of KSDK-TV, a crowd gathers near the scene where a police officer was shot in the arm Saturday night September 27 in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer is expected to survive, St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said – AP
A police search failed to turn up the suspect who was still on the loose.
In neighbouring St Louis, an off-duty police officer was shot at by an unknown number of assailants while driving his own car on a highway shortly after midnight.
The officer, who sustained minor injuries from broken glass but did not appear to have suffered gunshot wounds, did not return fire.
“It is unclear at this time if the officer was targeted or if this was a random act of violence,” Schellman said.
Ferguson has seen large protests take place since Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead on August 9 by a white police officer. The college-bound teen was shot at least six times by police officer Darren Wilson and his body was left in the street for several hours before it was removed.
Violence rocked Ferguson – a St Louis suburb of 21,000 with an African-American majority and an overwhelmingly white police department and town council – prompting Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to briefly call in the National Guard to quell protests.
Some demonstrators complained that police used undue force against peaceful protests. The military-grade equipment of Ferguson’s force also prompted nationwide discussion about whether police should be armed for warzones while engaging with civilians.