Purchase photos

Tension remains high in wake of fatal shooting of Missouri teen

8/12/2014

FERGUSON, Mo. (MCT) -- Tension stayed high and raw Monday as the St. Louis region continued to wait for answers in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a municipal police officer.

FERGUSON, Mo. (MCT) -- Tension stayed high and raw Monday as the St. Louis region continued to wait for answers in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a municipal police officer.

In another day of fast-moving events, the FBI promised to investigate the killing of Michael Brown, 18, on Saturday by a Ferguson police officer. Brown's parents called for an end to the violence while strongly disputing the police version of their son's death. More than 1,000 people observed a moment of silence at a meeting called by the NAACP.

Throughout the day, protesters continued to face off with police, and as the sun set, lines of police in riot gear fired tear gas to disperse protesters, telling them it was time to go home.

St. Louis County Police and the FBI promised thorough investigations into the shooting of Brown outside an apartment complex. The address is just east of a stretch of West Florissant Avenue, in the eastern corner of Ferguson, that was the focus of violence and looting Sunday night after a day of peaceful protest.

Police fired the tear gas into an increasingly unruly crowd that had reformed near a QuikTrip that was looted and torched Sunday. The gutted store was ground zero for protests all day Monday.

Police, backed by a SWAT armored car, blocked both West Florissant and the entry to Canfield Drive, scene of the killing Saturday afternoon that touched off the protests and violence. All but a few protesters had retreated from the scene by 9 p.m., and police held their positions in the streets.

Two miles to the south, more than 1,000 people honored a moment of silence at Murchison Tabernacle CME Church. Cornell Brooks, the new national president of the NAACP, pleaded for calm as the community responds to the "unfolding drama."

"Martin Luther King did not live and die so that we might steal in the name of justice in the middle of the night," said Brooks, who flew to St. Louis for the gathering, sponsored by the organization's St. Louis County branch.

Damage from Sunday night and early Monday was most extensive on West Florissant, but it also jumped 2 miles north to commercial areas near Interstate 270, where a Walmart was among retailers hit.

Seven miles south of the scene, several retailers in Brentwood closed their doors early Monday evening.

"We didn't want to take any chances," said a security guard at the Brentwood Promenade.

The Galleria mall also closed early after a few girls got into a fight. Authorities said the fight was not related to Ferguson.

Protests formed and reformed all day Monday outside the gutted QuikTrip. Marchers chanted and held up their hands in a mock sign of surrender as police hovered nearby. West Florissant was crowded with horn-honking gawkers in cars.

Earlier in the day, protesters gathered outside the Ferguson police station. More than 150 people took part, also holding up their hands and shouting, "Hands up, don't shoot," and "No justice, no peace."

At the scene of the shooting, where a growing pile of teddy bears marked the spot, a man in a white T-shirt fired a handgun Monday afternoon. Police did not respond to the scene.

Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., 36, was surveying the mound of bears when the shots were fired.

"I just need justice for my son, get this case solved. I need everybody to come together to get this done," he said.

At 5 p.m., honking and yelling continued outside the QuikTrip.

"It feels like I am at a historical moment," said Armaon Simmons, 17. "Black people are coming together. We aren't killing each other; we are working as one."

But Zackery Keys, a black union carpenter from St. Louis County, saw it differently.

"This is a disturbed group of young people," said Keys, 58, from a safe distance. "This is nothing to be proud of. Who wants to be part of chaos? ... Probably 95 percent of these people don't even vote."

Police made 32 arrests during the looting late Sunday, leading to charges against 10 suspects Monday. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch said the 10 were all "well-known" to investigators. Each was held on $50,000 bail.

Police officials and political leaders appealed for calm. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley announced the FBI involvement during a news conference in Clayton. The St. Louis County NAACP branch and numerous elected officials had called for the FBI to step in.

Dooley promised the process would be open but not quick.

"We're asking all the public to be calm, be patient," Dooley said.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the FBI "will take a lot of the information we have developed already through our investigation. They will take that investigation, and they may do their own interviews and take a look at the evidence themselves."

"We will share our information with Prosecutor McCulloch's office and at the same time with the FBI," Belmar said.

Belmar said Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson contacted him Saturday even before he got to the scene of the shooting. "This is a complex investigation, as it should be," Belmar said. "We need to make sure everything's done right. We get one chance to do it."

He said investigators still need to talk to scores of people at the apartment complex.

"I understand the public has a right to be skeptical," Belmar said. "But I would also ask the public to be reasonable."

Police did not release the name or race of the police officer, who was put on leave. Belmar said Sunday the officer had an encounter with two people, and Brown pushed the officer inside his police vehicle. Belmar said one shot was fired in the car. He said the officer fired multiple shots at Brown, who was away from the car, killing him.

Family members and some witnesses disputed the police account. They said Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot.

In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division also will take part in what he called a "concurrent federal inquiry."

"The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities," Holder said. "At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right."

The county NAACP and the African-American Mound City Bar Association released a joint statement urging witnesses to come forward. The statement said it was "clear that there were many witnesses who had not yet been interviewed by police investigators."

They promised to provide free legal counsel to witnesses who come forward.

A spokesman for the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network said he would visit Ferguson today to meet with the victim's family and community leaders, and have a news conference. At 7 p.m. today, the Rev. Traci D. Blackmon will host a forum at Christ the King United Church of Christ, where Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and Police Chief Jackson were expected to be on hand to answer questions.