A Ferguson, Mo., police officer was shot in the arm Saturday night while responding to a burglary report at a town community center, police said.
An officer confronted two males leaving the Ferguson Community Center about 9 p.m., said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. The officer had been responding to a burglary, said Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. The officer chased the men and as he approached them, shots were fired at the officer, who raised his arm and was hit in the left arm, Belmar said.
The officer, whose identity was not released, “was able to get off a couple of shots,” Belmar said, adding he has “no indication that either suspect was shot.”
The officer’s condition was not released, but Belmar said he suffered a non-life-threatening wound. Police from several St. Louis area departments were searching for the suspects in the early morning hours of Sunday.
The shooting came after another tense week in Ferguson, which has been roiled by unrest since Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, was fatally shot by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
At one point Saturday night, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who oversaw police during last months’ protests, appeared near the shooting scene and confirmed to the gathering crowd that “an officer has been shot.” He told the crowd to disperse. By midnight Central Time the crowd had dwindled. The community center is about three miles north of the Canfield Green apartments where Brown was shot.
Anthony Gray, a Brown family attorney, said the Saturday night shooting was unrelated to the Brown case. Belmar also said the officer’s shooting was unrelated to protests surrounding the Brown case.
A grand jury is examining evidence in Brown’s shooting and will determine whether Wilson will face any charges. Some in the community, including Brown’s parents, have called on Ferguson’s police chief to step down. In a video earlier this week, Jackson said to Brown’s family that he was “deeply sorry for their loss.”
Brown’s parents said they were unmoved by Jackson’s apology in an interview with the Associated Press.
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, said, “yes,” when asked if Chief Tom Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they want to see the officer who shot their son arrested for his Aug. 9 death.
“An apology would be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, processed and charged with murder,” Brown Sr. told the Associated Press.
President Obama, who spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s award dinner Saturday night, addressed the Brown shooting, saying that Brown’s death and the unrest that followed exposed a “gulf of mistrust” between residents and police in many communities.
“Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
Federal officials intervened on Friday to stop police in Ferguson from wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets in solidarity with their co-worker. Jackson agreed to bar his officers from wearing the bracelet while in uniform.
On Tuesday outraged protesters clashed with police after a memorial at the scene of the Brown shooting was burned and photographs surfaced showing police watching in the background.
The Justice Department’s civil rights division announced this month that it had expanded its investigation of the Brown shooting to include the entire Ferguson police department. In the days after the shooting, heavily armed police clashed with demonstrators, and threw used tear gas and smoke canisters at the crowds in scenes that drew both national and worldwide attention.