A young gunman identified in the social media as Tyrone Harris, 18, is in critical condition, St Louis County police have said. Harris was shot during a shootout involving two rival gangs and plainclothes police officers in Ferguson on August 9, the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
St Louis County Police Chief, John Belmar said in a news conference that one man was in critical, unstable condition and was undergoing surgery after he was shot at by four plainclothes police officers.
Police said that the young gunman opened fire on four plainclothes police officers while fleeing a gang shootout on West Florissant Avenue, Ferguson’s main street. The officers returned fire after the gunman fired shots “right at the grill of the car,” an unmarked police vehicle identified by flashing blue and red lights.
Belmar called the shooting “a tragedy for the family of this man and the officers involved.”
Police were called to the scene due to the looting overnight, while protesters and bystanders still lingered after commemorating Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer a year ago.
Police described the two groups who exchanged fire as “criminals not protesters,” and said they were monitoring three to four individuals they believed to be armed.
While details regarding the shootout are still surfacing, Belmar said “several shots rang out” in a span of 40 to 50 seconds, and added that the rumours regarding a second round of shots fired and further injuries as “less than reliable.”
St Louis County Police would not release the race of the four officers involved in the shooting, who have been placed on administrative leave until their psychological evaluation and an investigation into the shooting can be completed.
The death of Michael Brown a year ago had triggered citywide protests, mostly peaceful but occasionally veering towards vandalism and looting. The incident started a national debate in the United States regarding race, especially about systemic racism endured by black communities at the hands of the police force.