Police officers in St. Louis used tear gas to scatter protesters and arrested nine people on Wednesday night as demonstrations continued over a fatal police shooting earlier in the day.
According to Police Chief Sam Dotson, protesters hurled bottles and bricks at officers, and when they ignored repeated calls to disperse, police officers first used inactive gas, and then real tear gas.
Police will keep up an increased presence near the intersection of Walton and Page, the location of the demonstrations.
During the day on Wednesday, protesters engaged the police in a cat-and-mouse game. They gathered at the intersection, dispersed, and then got together again.
They were holding protests over the shooting of an 18-year-old man by police officers.
According to Dotson, two young men ran out of the back of a building when police arrived to perform a search.
Addressing reporters, the chief 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. There were two officers in the alley. Both officers fired.”
The unidentified suspect who supposedly pointed a gun at police officers was shot, and pronounced dead at the scene.
Afterward, protesters gathered at the junction of Walton and Page, making it impassable. The authorities made some arrests, “people moved to the sidewalk and peace was restored,” the police chief said.
However, when the police left, the demonstrators returned, walked on to Interstate 70, blocked it and gathered again at the intersection, Dotson said.
The officers were hit with bottles and bricks, he added.
“At at that point, after the crowd ignored repeated requests and directions, inert smoke was used,” the chief said. “After that didn’t have an effect, tear gas was used.”
According to the chief, “There’s a line that gets crossed from peacefully protesting, which we will support, to when laws are broken.” He added, “Police officers have to do their job.”
Alderman Antonio French, who gained fame during demonstrations last year in Ferguson, uploaded videos and photos of fire personnel extinguishing house fires.
Relations have been on edge between some residents in St. Louis and police for quite some time.
The tension rose after Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, slightly more than one year ago.
The two police officers involved in Wednesday’s incident have been placed on compulsory leave, per police guidelines.
According to Dotson the suspect’s firearm was reported stolen. The second criminal suspect who escaped from the house is still at large.
Other people who had been in the building were apprehended without incident, Dotson said.
Officers recovered four firearms, including one inside the house, two that were thrown over a fence as the suspected individuals were running and the gun in the suspect’s possession, said Dotson, adding that three of the four were stolen.