An off-duty police officer in St. Louis, Missouri, shot and killed a man after chasing him through a local neighborhood. Citizens are marching near the site close to the Missouri Botanical Garden, chanting slogans as more officers stand by.
Protesters in St. Louis’s Shaw neighborhood
The dead man, an 18-year-old young African American, fired at least three rounds at the officer, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a news conference, although many question his story.
Police reported recovering a 9mm Ruger from the scene.
The 32-year-old officer was heading to his second job as a private security guard and was reportedly wearing a uniform. The police officer has served with the St. Louis force for six years.
St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins told reporters that the officer approached four men on the street to question them.
“As he exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street,” Adkins said.“The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed.”
Concerns are high that this latest police killing will lead to unrest in St. Louis.
People chanted slogans, including: “We’re young, we’re strong, we’re marching all night long!” and “Fight back, fight back!”
St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters that during the Grand Avenue march in the city’s Shaw neighborhood several police cars were damaged and had their windows smashed.
As in the case with Michael Brown shooting two months ago in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, the suspect was black, the police shooter is white.
The fatal shooting occurred Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, according to local Fox affiliate KTVI News. Law enforcement explained that the off-duty officer was working a secondary job when he attempted a pedestrian check.
However, as a crowd formed at the scene, some individuals told reporters that the suspect did not have a gun. In fact, multiple people said he was only armed with a sandwich. They also told KTVI that he was shot 16 times.
Local resident Teyonna Myers, 23, said the suspect’s name was 18-year-old Vonderrick Myers Jr., her cousin.
“He was unarmed,” she told the Post-Dispatch. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”
The death of Michael Brown in the neighboring city of Ferguson sparked a fierce backlash against police, who many in the community criticized for using excessive force. Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, was shot multiple times by an officer, and his death sparked a weeks of protests in the city – as well as nationwide debate over police behavior.
Another relative of Myers reportedly said that before being shot, the young man was also Tasered.