2 Officers Shot Outside Ferguson PD Headquarters on Night of Police Protests

AP

Two officers were shot outside police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri, early Thursday morning after a long night of protests. The officers are conscious and being treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

At a news conference, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one of the officers, a 41-year-old from his department, was struck in the shoulder. The other, a 32-year-old from the nearby Webster Groves Police Department, was shot in the face. 

"Those are very serious gunshot injuries," Belmar told reporters. "These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers."

The shots were fired as protesters and police from multiple departments converged hours after a Wednesday afternoon announcement by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles that Tom Jackson, the controversial Ferguson police chief, would resign his post. This latest round "appeared to be dwindling," though, when shots  — at least three, Belmar said — were heard, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Some of the protesters fell to the ground and others ran" after the officers were struck.

Susan Weich, a crime reporter for the Post-Dispatch who was live on the scene in Ferguson, reported on Twitter that the shots came from a house up the hill from the police department and that multiple witnesses had told her one officer appeared to have been hit in the face.

Weich's colleague, the Post-Dispatch's Christine Byers, reported that Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff, a Ferguson officer who will serve as acting chief when Jackson leaves the force, told reporters that the officers involved in the shooting were not believed to be from the Ferguson Police Department. 

Both reports were confirmed by Belmar during his news conference outside the hospital where the officers are being treated.

DeRay McKesson, an activist involved with WeTheProtestors.org, posted live updates of the response from officers present on the scene, as well as photos and videos taken soon after the shootings.

Earlier in the night, McKesson noted that officers providing security and crowd control services outside the department appeared to be from other departments.

Earlier, McKesson tweeted that about 80 protesters had gathered outside the police department headquarters, one of the hubs for demonstrators in the wake of Brown's killing and the subsequent Missouri grand jury decision not to indict former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. 

The new protests followed the release of a scathing Department of Justice report on Ferguson police department practices that resulted in Jackson's resignation, as well as that of a municipal court judge and the city manager. The report alleged widespread racism and abuse of power within the department and city government, including incidents in which officers traded racist emails, arrested people without probable cause, used unnecessary force when detaining suspects and let dogs loose on and harassed black residents, who were often subject to excessive fines and petty ticketing.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as new information becomes available.