FBI Opens Probe Into The Police Shooting That Roiled St. Louis

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St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippman reports on the aftermath of rioting in the city's suburb of Ferguson, where police shot and killed an unarmed teenager on Sunday. The community is reeling from riots some consider the worst in recent memory. The FBI has opened an investigation into the fatal shooting that preceded the riots.

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The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is reeling today. On Saturday, a police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old African-American man who was set to start college this week. A march yesterday to protest the shooting ended in riots that destroyed one business and left at least a dozen others damaged. More than 30 people were arrested, and now the FBI says it's investigating the police shooting. Rachel Lippmann of St. Louis Public Radio has more.

RACHEL LIPPMANN, BYLINE: Mike Jacob and his employees spent Monday morning sawing plywood to cover the windows of his store, Sam's Meat Market. Last night the looters took liquor, cigars and even the safe.

MIKE JACOB: There's a lot of damage - a lot, a lot.

LIPPMANN: Jacob's store is about a mile from the apartment complex where Michael Brown was shot and killed over the weekend. Police say Brown and another individual allegedly assaulted the officer as he was trying to get out of his police car. A struggle for the officer's gun ensued. Police say one shot was fired inside the vehicle, but Brown was killed outside. A peaceful candlelight vigil and march disintegrated into violence and looting, but business owner Mike Jacob harbors no ill will toward the community.

JACOB: I think the people that want to do the damage inside the store - trying to steal the TV - it's not our customer. You know, it's 100 percent is not our customer. The community here is very good - smart people and good people.

LIPPMANN: Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson also suggested the looters were not from Ferguson.

THOMAS JACKSON: There were a whole lot of other people who were there just that were not going to be satisfied with peaceful protest. So what we ended up with is the peaceful protesters - which is pretty much this group here - leaving or dispersing, and what we were left with was a pretty violent crowd.

LIPPMANN: Jackson is standing outside the Ferguson Police Department where a third day of protests over the Michael Brown shooting was underway.

CROWD: Don't shoot.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When do we want it?

CROWD: Now.

LIPPMANN: Monica Timmons is among the 60 or so protesters who came out to demand that the Ferguson police identify the officer involved in the shooting. They want him charged with murder.

MONICA TIMMONS: I don't have kids, and this is why. I do not want to be scared to have a son in America. Like, ain't you scared to have one? You know, like, let's be real. You know, where do our sons got to look forward to? You want to bring a son to this so he can get killed? No.

LIPPMANN: Others in the crowd targeted their anger at Ferguson's mayor, demanding more black officers on the force. Currently there's only a handful in a city that is majority African-American. Police in riot gear kept a close eye on the boisterous crowd, and that's what most upset Montague Simmons.

MONTAGUE SIMMONS: So what we're seeing now is a police response to people who weren't even involved in any looting or any other acts of violence. And that's just increasing the tension, and actually, it's making people feel less safe. People are out here because they don't feel safe. They're seeing young people killed for no reason.

LIPPMANN: But despite everything, Simmons says people are at least starting to listen.

SIMMONS: So we're really trying to gather the energy to a place where we can actually begin to have conversations not just with each other, but have conversations with the city about doing something different. We can't go back to business as usual.

LIPPMANN: Protesters are scheduled to gather tomorrow at the office of Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney in St. Louis county. Thomas Jackson, the Ferguson police chief, says he's hoping for a quiet night, but says his officers are ready if it's not. For NPR News, I'm Rachel Lippmann in St. Louis.

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