The St. Louis mayor and police chief called for calm Thursday afternoon after the shooting death of a black 18-year-old by two white police officers in a north St. Louis neighborhood that set off a round of protests.
“It is not going to happen unless we all work together as a community,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The wider community supports the protest goals, but we have to be mindful of the fact that criminals use a peaceful cover for their criminal activity.”
The protests Wednesday night ended in nine arrests and officers' use of tear gas, police said Thursday.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Thursday on Twitter that several guns were recovered from 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey, whom they accused of pointing a gun at officers as he fled a home suspected of drug activity.
Ball-Bey was shot and died at the scene. Police are searching for a second suspect, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said.
“Officers in the rear alley ordered them to stop and to drop the gun. As they ran, one of the individuals turned and pointed the gun at the officers,” Dotson said. “There were two officers in the alley. Both officers fired.”
An attorney for Ball-Bey’s family told the Post-Dispatch that he was visiting family at the house where police arrived with a search warrant on Wednesday morning. A recent graduate of McCluer South-Berkeley High School, Ball-Bey was working part-time at FedEx and died in his company uniform, said attorney Jerryl Christmas.
“He got off work and just came over here to holler at some of his cousins,” Christmas told the newspaper. “He isn’t any drug dealer. He isn’t a gunman. He’s a kid from a good family.”
The officers have been put on leave pending an internal investigation, which is standard procedure. Neither was injured.
One is a 33-year-old white officer with seven years on the force, the other a 29-year-old white officer with nearly seven years of experience, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
Hours after Ball-Bey was shot on Wednesday morning, protesters gathered at the intersection near the site of the shooting, questioning the use of deadly force in a city that has been racked by conflict between police and protesters since a white police officer killed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a year ago.
Dotson said in a news conference posted to YouTube by the department that protesters blocked the intersection of Page Boulevard and Walton Avenue in north St. Louis, about five miles from the site of protests last week in Ferguson.
The protest was initially cleared by uniformed officers, but police in riot gear were called in after protesters threw rocks and bottles, Dotson said.
“It wasn’t until later in the evening,” Dotson said, “that they took over the intersection” and riot police were dispatched.
During the protests, a car was set on fire and several businesses were burglarized, Dotson said.
“What we’ve seen are individuals who want notoriety for acts of violence,” Dotson said.
Protesters said on Twitter that police provoked a response by arriving in riot gear and using tear gas. Hands Up United, a group that was formed in Ferguson after protests last year, questioned the police use of tear gas.