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FERGUSON, Mo.  –Two police officers standing guard outside the Ferguson, Missouri, police department were shot early Thursday in what St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called an “ambush,” spurring a manhunt for the person or persons who directed gunfire at the line of officers.

“We could have buried two police officers,” Belmar told reporters. “… I feel very confident that whoever did this … came there for whatever nefarious reason that it was.”

The shots rang out shortly after midnight, at the end of a protest against the maligned Ferguson Police Department, which has been under fire ever since one of its officers, Darren Wilson, shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown last August, and more recently since the release of a scathing Justice Department report documenting a pattern of racial discrimination.

While the demonstrators’ focus was the Ferguson department, neither of the wounded officers is from that St. Louis suburb. Video contains graphic language: One of them is from nearby Webster Groves. The officer, a 32-year-old with seven years experience, was shot at the high point of his cheek, just under his right eye, Belmar said. The bullet that hit him was still lodged behind his ear as of late Thursday morning. The other wounded officer was hit in the shoulder and the bullet came out the middle of his back, Belmar said. He is a 41-year-old from St. Louis County Police who has been in law enforcement for the past 14 years. The officers — who were treated and released from St. Louis’ Barnes Jewish Hospital, according to the St. Louis County Police’s Facebook page — were standing next to each other when they were shot, Belmar said. No suspect or suspects have been named, though Belmar did say that “several people … have been very forthright with” investigators and shell casings that could be tied to the shooting have been recovered. Law enforcement officers converged on a home late Thursday morning in Ferguson as part of the investigation into the shooting, St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said. Protesters had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday night to cheer the resignation of the city’s embattled Police Chief Thomas Jackson. The shooting came just a week after the Department of Justice cleared officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. The DOJ said all physical evidence and most sworn interviews indicated Brown attacked Wilson, went for his gun, ran and then came back at the officer. A second DOJ report said minorities were treated unfairly in the city and found several racist emails from city employees. The crowd had been thinning out, ready to call it a night, when the shots rang out, Belmar said. “All of a sudden, I heard at least four or five shots ring out,” witness Markus Loehrer told CNN. “It took me at least 30 seconds of watching before I realized there was an officer down. We are not there to shoot cops, we don’t like violence. So we did what anybody would do — we ran away.” “We could see the muzzle flash,” said Bradley Rayford, a witness who said he was a few feet from the shooting. “Someone was shooting towards the police department.” The demonstrations started off peacefully, but devolved through the course of the night. As they faced a long line of officers, some demonstrators briefly closed South Florissant Road that runs in front of the police station. At least two people were arrested, CNN affiliate KMOV reported, but it wasn’t clear why. Some chanted “Racist cops have got to go.” At least one scuffle broke out between demonstrators. Some officers stood behind cars with guns drawn.