Just as expected, the protesters are saying Tyrone Harris Jr. is the victim in this situation even though he opened fire on police. Note to Tyrone: You can’t shoot at police and expect them to just stand there.
A man who opened fire on officers in Ferguson, Missouri, is in “critical, unstable” condition after being struck when the officers returned fire, the St. Louis County Police chief said early Monday.
Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference that plainclothes officers had been tracking the man, who they believed was armed, during a protest marking the anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting death by a Ferguson police officer touched off a national “Black Lives Matter” movement.
VIDEO BELOW OF THE MOMENT SHOTS RANG OUT:
According to the St. Louis County Police Department, two people were firing gunshots at one another in the 9200 block of West Florissant around 11:10 p.m. Sunday. While exchanging gunfire, one of the suspects ran across a parking lot in the area and was spotted by St. Louis County Police Detectives, who were in an unmarked police van.
After spotting the suspect, the detectives turned on their emergency lights and drove toward the suspect, who, Belmar said, turned and began firing gunshots. The officers returned fire from inside the vehicle and then pursued the man on foot when he ran.
The man again fired on the officers, the chief said, and all four officers fired back. He was struck and fell.
The man was taken to a hospital, where Belmar said he was in “critical, unstable” condition in surgery.
Tyrone Harris was outside of the hospital after the suspect was brought in for treatment and identified the man as his son, Tyrone Harris Jr. Harris said witnesses told him his 18-year-old son was “running away from the situation, and police ended up shooting him.” He continued by stating that witnesses said his son did not have a gun and was in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Harris told News 4 that Harris Jr. was in an intensive care unit after being shot in several places.
None of the officers was seriously injured. All four have been put on standard administrative leave.
The suspect’s gun, a .9mm semi-automatic firearm, reported stolen from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was recovered at the shooting scene, according to the St. Louis County Police Department.
The shooting happened while protesters were gathered on West Florissant Avenue, a business zone that saw rioting and looting last year after Brown’s killing. The shots sent protesters and reporters running for cover.
The chief said an estimated six shooters unleashed a “remarkable” amount of gunfire over about 45 seconds.
A few hours after the officer-involved shooting, around 2:15 a.m., officers with the Ferguson Police Department were called to the Canfield Apartments after two male victims, ages 17 and 19, were shot. The victims told police they were walking on the sidewalk near the Michael Brown memorial when a vehicle pulled alongside them and an unknown suspect began firing shots from inside.
The 17-year-old sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder and the 19-year-old was shot once in the chest. Both victims were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Belmar waved off any notion that the people with the weapons were part of the protest.
“They were criminals. They weren’t protesters,” he said.
“There is a small group of people out there that are intent on making sure that peace doesn’t prevail,” he said. “There are a lot of emotions. I get it. But we can’t sustain this as we move forward.”
The anniversary of the killing, which cast greater scrutiny on how police interact with black communities, has sparked days of renewed protests, though until Sunday they had been peaceful and without any arrests.
Before the gunfire, protesters were blocking traffic and confronting police. One person threw a glass bottle at officers but missed. Three officers with the St. Louis County Police Department were injured during the night. Two of the officers were pepper sprayed by protesters and the third was cut in the face when a rock was thrown.
During the overnight unrest, two unmarked St. Louis County Police Department vehicles were struck by gunfire. Another unmarked police vehicle sustained damage from a minor vehicle accident, police said.