2 Officers Shot Outside Ferguson Police Station
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The news from Ferguson, Mo., got even worse. The police chief resigned yesterday in the town where a controversial police shooting took place last year. And then overnight, people protested outside the Ferguson Police Department, and two police officers were shot. Rachel Lippmann of St. Louis Public Radio is covering this story. She's on the line. Good morning, Rachel.
RACHEL LIPPMANN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: How did it happen?
LIPPMANN: Well, from what we know from County Police Chief Jon Belmar, around midnight local time, a group of protesters were gathered at a parking lot across the street from the Ferguson Police Department. Shots came from behind that group of protesters toward police officers standing and monitoring the protests. One officer from St. Louis County was hit in the shoulder. One officer from Webster Groves - that's a municipality - they're helping out that night - was hit in the face. Chief Belmar told reporters he believes that the officers were targeted simply because they were police.
INSKEEP: Now, you said shots from behind the protesters, meaning someone fired over their heads and into the police officers? Is that what you mean?
LIPPMANN: Fired from up a hill on a street separating two parking lots. The protesters were standing on a parking lot that has sort of become just a place where they can gather and barbecue. The owner doesn't mind that they're there. And there is a street that runs into sort of the main drive there. The shots came from up the hill on that street directed toward the police officers according to eyewitnesses and to Chief Belmar.
INSKEEP: How are the officers?
LIPPMANN: The officers are - were conscious when they were brought to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, one of the main trauma centers here in St. Louis. They are expected to survive. But as Chief Belmar put it, they are pretty serious gunshot injuries to have sustained to the shoulder and face.
INSKEEP: Now, there's so many developments here. In recent days, there was a Justice Department report looking into the Ferguson Police Department and fiercely criticizing many of the techniques and policies of individual officers and of the department as a whole. Then the police chief resigned. Now this violent incident overnight. It must be a very tense moment in Ferguson.
LIPPMANN: It is. I spoke to an eyewitness who was on the scene. His name is Mike Kinman. He is the dean of the Christ Church Cathedral, the local Episcopal cathedral here in St. Louis. And he said that he's concerned that violence has been inserted here into what is mostly been a peaceful and nonviolent protest since Michael Brown was shot in August. And he said that he's worried it's going to cause people to not act in their best form, either the police or the protesters. And even Chief Belmar with St. Louis County told reporters that they may have to adjust the way they deal with protesters. He said that he was surprised there hadn't been another officer shot with the amount of gunfire they had taken on the line some nights during the protests.
INSKEEP: OK, thanks very much, Rachel.
LIPPMANN: Thank you, Steve.
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