(FERGUSON, Mo.) — St. Louis County Police and Missouri State Highway Patrol will take control of the policing of the Ferguson protests starting Thursday evening after two officers from different jurisdictions were shot outside of the police station on Wednesday night, authorities said.
The decision comes as the officers were released from the hospital Thursday morning after sustaining non-threatening injuries following a night of renewed protests, the St. Louis County Police said in a Facebook post.
“Both were in serious condition before being released from Barnes Jewish Hospital,” the post read.
The cops, who have not been identified, were “lucky” they weren’t killed, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar had said.
At a news conference held before the Facebook posting, Belmar said they heard “three or four shots ring out” before the officers were hurt. Both were seriously wounded by a shooter standing about 150 feet away.
“We are lucky by God’s grace that we didn’t lose two police officers,” he said.
One officer, 41, was struck in the shoulder; the other, 32, in the face, Belmar said.
“With both officers, we don’t have any remarkable long-term injuries,” he added.
Belmar said the shots were fired from an undetermined location north or northwest of the Ferguson Police Department building.
“Ladies and gentleman, we were very close to having what happened to the NYPD. We could have buried two police officers,” Belmar said.
The search for the suspect or suspects is the “number-one priority” within the St. Louis County police department, according to Belmar. The St. Louis County Police Department said Thursday that detectives were “talking with people as part of their investigation” but that “no arrests have been made.”
In a tweet, President Obama wrote: “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. –bo”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in a statement released Thursday morning, said, “This heinous assault on two brave law enforcement officers was inexcusable and repugnant. I condemn violence against any public safety officials in the strongest terms, and the Department of Justice will never accept any threats or violence directed at those who serve and protect our communities….Such senseless acts of violence threaten the very reforms that nonviolent protesters in Ferguson and around the country have been working towards for the past several months.”
Holder also said he wished the officers “a full and speedy recovery.”
“We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department’s full range of investigative resources. And we will continue to stand unequivocally against all acts of violence against cops whenever and wherever they occur,” he added.
Tensions simmered in the city on Wednesday night after the resignation of the city’s police chief, Tom Jackson. Hundreds of protesters gathered throughout the night, staring down police officers in riot gear.
A handful of people were arrested. Some people chanted, and other flare-ups were reported — unrest rekindled after a Justice Department report documented widespread racial bias in the city.
Jackson’s resignation makes him the sixth person who has been fired or forced to resign since the report was released March 4 detailing what it described as rampant racial bias in policing in the St. Louis suburb.
Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will take over as the acting chief of police as the city launches a national search for a new chief of police, the letter stated.
Jackson had initially come under fire in August for his department’s handling of the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Brown’s parents released a statement Thursday, calling the police shooting “senseless.”
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated,” the family said. “We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality and to forward the cause of equality under the law for all. We must work together to bring peace to our communities. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the officers injured during this morning’s shooting and their families.”
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Recent posts in National News