The past week has seen a new round of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where law enforcement clashed for weeks with demonstrators this August following police officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Protesters returned to the streets on Tuesday after a makeshift memorial to the dead burned down under mysterious circumstances. Two days later, cops confronted crowds of people who were unsatisfied by Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson’s long overdue apology for Brown’s death, as well as the other events of this summer. On Saturday night, a Ferguson police officer was shot, though local authorities insist that the shooting wasn’t related to the ongoing protests.
According to the Ferguson Police Department and the St. Louis County Police Department, the incident happened at 9:10 p.m. while the officer was patrolling a neighborhood off West Florissant Avenue, a couple miles away from where the protesters have been gathering. The New York Times reports that the cop noticed a man attempting to break into a community center and got out of his car in order to approach them. The suspect then reportedly ran at the officer, pulled out a handgun, and fired at him, hitting him in the arm. The officer shot back at the man, who fled into a nearby wooded area. (The police say there was “no indication” that the suspect was hit.) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch offered a slightly different account featuring two suspects, but a Ferguson Police Department spokesperson said on Sunday that they believe there was only one.
With a manhunt for the suspect under way, Jackson told reporters that he didn’t think the altercation had anything to do with the demonstrations. “It didn’t happen within the proximity of the protest area. This is a fairly secluded area. I wouldn’t have any reason to think that it was linked in any way, shape or form.” Either way, the Post-Dispatch reports that people in Ferguson are naturally suspicious of the cops’ story, with about 100 protesters gathering in the background of a news conference shouting, “We are going to shut this down!”
Meanwhile, the Times reports:
Less than an hour after Chief Jackson spoke, an off-duty St. Louis City police officer was shot at while driving his personal vehicle on a highway near Ferguson, the county Police Department said. The officer suffered minor injuries from breaking glass when his vehicle was struck several times by the gunfire.
A car pulled up next to the officer’s vehicle on Interstate 70 near the St. Louis International Airport around 12:10 a.m. on Sunday, officials said. People inside the car fired several shots at the officer’s vehicle.
“It is unclear at this time if the officer was targeted or if this was a random act of violence,” the county Police Department said in a statement on Sunday morning.
Schron Jackson, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Municipal Police Department, said the suspects, described as three males, fled in a black sedan. The officer, who was wearing his uniform pants but not his uniform shirt, did not return fire, officials said.
So, that’s what’s going on in Ferguson this weekend. Don’t expect those tensions to ease anytime soon.