Two police officers were shot early Thursday during a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department, authorities said, after a demonstration that followed the resignation of the police chief of the St. Louis suburb.
According to the police officials, a 32-year-old officer was shot in the face, while another 41-year-old policeman was shot in the shoulder. Both were taken to a local hospital and their injuries are serious.
“I don’t know who did the shooting, to be honest with you,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. He added that the police doesn’t have a suspect yet in the case or a description of the gun. Belmar believes, based on the trajectory of the bullets, that the shots were directed at the officers.
The shootings happened in front of the Ferguson police department, after the resignation of Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Wednesday. The authorities stated that the shots were fired form across the street from the police department. The street was immediately blocked by police cars and officers in riot gear.
Ferguson is a common scene for this kinds of protests and demonstrations, after 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a city police officer last summer. Officer Darren Wilson was cleared by a state grand jury in November, and the decision was followed by protests, fires and looting. Wilson has since resigned.
A report released last week by the Justice Department showed a widespread racial bias in the police department of Ferguson, and also a profit-driven court system. The protesters said they were not satisfied with the resignations of Thomas Jackson and City Manager John Shaw.
Mayor James Knowles III announced that the city has reached a mutual separation agreement with Police Chief Jackson, who will receive on year of his salary and health coverage. The mayor explained in a press conference that Jackson is a honorable man who wished that the community would heal from racial unrest.
Jackson was the Ferguson force chief for nearly five years, before the shooting that caused months of unrest across the St. Louis region, drawing global attention to the predominantly black city of 21,000.
Ferguson’s court clerk was also fired last week, while two police officers and the judge who oversaw the court system resigned
According to a statement released by the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the U.S. government remains devoted to reaching a “court-enforceable agreement” in order to solve Ferguson’s “unconstitutional practices” .
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