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. 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.