One was shot in the face and the other in the shoulder. Both have maintained serious injuries, but are not described as life threatening. There is some speculation it was a sniper who shot these cops.
FERGUSON • Two police officers were hit by gunfire early Thursday outside the Ferguson police department.
The shots were fired just after midnight as police were confronting protesters who had gathered outside the police station.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one officer was with his department and the other was with the Webster Groves department. Both were being treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where Belmar spoke, and were in serious condition.
The chief said at least three shots were fired. He described the injuries of both men as “very serious gunshot injuries.” Neither injury was considered life-threatening.
Police planned to hold a news conference at mid-morning about the shootings and protests.
The Webster Groves officer was shot in the face. He is 32 and has been on the force five years.
The county officer was hit in the shoulder. That officer is 41 and has been in law enforcement for 14 years.
Belmar said no suspects have been identified in the shootings.
The officers had been standing in a group when the shots were fired. The gunfire was “parallel to the ground,” Belmar said, leading him to believe the officers were targeted.
The chief said that 60-70 protesters had come to the Ferguson Police Department earlier in the night, some of them blocking roads and sidewalks. The protests prompted police departments to send officers, some in riot gear.
Belmar said he felt police have been fortunate since protests erupted in Ferguson in August after the police shooting of Michael Brown in that officers patrolling those protests have not been injured.
“But I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” he added. “That’s not an indictment of everybody that’s expressing their First Amendment rights but we have seen in law enforcement that this is a very, very, very dangerous environment for officers to work in regarding the amount of gunfire that we have experienced up there.”
Belmar said there were no suspects in the shooting and he was unsure of any links to the protests. “I don’t know who did the shooting, to be honest with you, but somehow they were embedded in that group of folks,” he said.
Politicians responded to the shootings early Thursday. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger tweeted out a message: “Our prayers are with the two officers injured in the line of duty overnight.”
And U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called the shootings “a criminal act that jeopardized the lives of police officers and protesters both. I hope the officers have a full recovery and pray for them and their families. It’s time for healing and reform, and acts of violence have no place in this process.”
Ferguson Councilwoman Kim Tihen, woke to the news that two officers had been shot.
“I’m concerned about escalating violence, especially against our officers,” she said. “They’ve endured so much stress already.”
Tihen, who spent four years as a Ferguson police officer, now works as a detective in another municipality.
Read more: stltoday.com