ST. LOUIS • After a night of turmoil, all was quiet Thursday morning on Walton Avenue.
Unrest followed the police shooting of an 18-year-old who they say pointed a gun at officers. He was fleeing a home where police were serving a search warrant for guns and drugs.
Police and protesters faced off Wednesday night, with tear gas used by police. A building, a car and debris were set on fire.
The car that had been set on fire in the 1100 block of Walton was still smoldering after 7 a.m. Thursday, and police arrived and used a fire extinguisher to put the last of the fire out.
They had a tow truck take the car away. School buses and other morning traffic passed by the scene. No protesters were out. No curious onlookers either.
Here is an account of what happened overnight:
PROTESTERS BURN AMERICAN FLAG: 10:50 p.m.
A group of about 80 demonstrators burned an American flag in the middle of Page Avenue and chanted a vulgar anti-police slogan. The incident was near Bayard Avenue, which is one block west of Walton Avenue. Officers made no move against them, and the chanting stopped.
PROTEST OBSERVERS CLAIM POLICE REACTION TOO AGGRESSIVE: 10:35 p.m.
The Rev. Renita Lamkin of St. Charles, who regularly attended protests in Ferguson, went to Page Avenue with several other clergy members Wednesday evening. She accused the police of engaging in an overly aggressive response.
“There has to be a better way, but the better way is not to terrorize an already terrorized community,” she said. “How they deal with the situation is classist and dehumanizing. The people here don't matter as much to them.”
Kayla Reed of the Organization for Black Struggle also said she believed officers were too aggressive toward a crowd “that never was all that big.” She claimed officers gave no warning firing canisters of smoke and tear gas.
Police Chief Sam Dotson, in his news conference earlier in the evening, said police gave the crowd repeated warnings by bullhorn before firing smoke, then tear gas, and making arrests.
PROPERTY OWNER SUPPORTS POLICE: 10:40 p.m.
Gary Taylor, 47, who owns property in the neighborhood, said he supported the police actions "because they wouldn't stop" and threw rocks and bottles at the officers.
"These are not even people who live in this neighborhood," Taylor said. "None of these people I recognize."
VACANT HOUSE ON FIRE: 9:55 p.m.
A vacant house on Bayard Avenue is consumed in flames as crowds continue to gather near the scene of a police shooting.
Firefighters are responding to the fire.
DOTSON SAYS POLICE ACTED TO BREAK UP CROWD AFTER BEING THREATENED: 9:45 p.m.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says police moved in to clear protesters from Walton and Page avenues, near the site of a police shooting earlier Wednesday, only after crowds had lashed out against police.
Dotson said police fired smoke canisters and later tear gas to break up the crowd. He said the actions were in response to bricks, water bottles and other objects being hurled at police. He said he also heard gunshots.
Nine arrests were made during the confrontation, Dotson said.
He said police are now receiving reports of businesses being looted and fires being set in what he referred to as "acts of violence directed at not only to police officers but the neighborhood." He said some people in the gathering were protesting, but, "There are individuals who want to gain notoriety by acts of violence."
During a press conference at police headquarters shortly before 10 p.m., Dotson said protesters gathered on Page early in the evening, moved toward the Central West End, briefly blocked Kingshighway and then returned to Walton and Page, where officers declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and ordered people to disperse. After dark, large numbers of officers held control of a two-block area of Page.
He said the officers left the area but returned when a car was set on fire on Walton just south of Page. In another instance, he said, someone kicked down the door of a small store.
Referring briefly to the police shooting earlier in the day, he said three of the four guns officers confiscated, including the one allegedly held by the man who was shot by officers, had been stolen. He said officers went to the residence on Walton with a search warrant "in a neighborhood that has been plagued by gun violence."
FIRES SET NEAR SITE OF SHOOTING: 9:30 p.m.
Fires are being set on and near Page Boulevard and Walton near the spot where a St. Louis police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old earlier Wednesday.
At least one car has been lit on fire. Furniture and other items are burning in piles on the street.
Earlier in the evening, police moved in to clear the neighborhood of protesters, firing canisters of smoke.
FROM OUR EARLIER STORY:
The killing of an 18-year black man by St. Louis police in the city’s Fountain Park neighborhood once again ignited protests Wednesday, with an angry crowd disputing police accounts of the incident.
Police say a young black man pointed a gun at officers around 11:30 a.m. after they arrived to serve a search warrant. Two officers, both white men, fired a total of four times.
The St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office identified the man who was shot as Mansur Ball-Bey, 18, of the 1200 block of Redman Boulevard in the Spanish Lake area.
The shooting almost immediately attracted protesters, many of whom had gathered downtown Wednesday morning to mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting of another young black man killed by police.
By evening, police fired smoke canisters to break up crowds near the site of the shooting. Police closed off access to the area for a five block radius, with dozens of police vehicles congregated on Page Boulevard east of the site. At around 9 p.m. a car was seen on fire near the intersection of Page and Vernon.
Some of those who gathered to hear Police Chief Sam Dotson speak Wednesday afternoon grew angry at his account. As the crowd grew, so did the tension with officers, who arrived in large numbers. At least three people were taken into custody after police in SWAT gear and an armored vehicle told the crowd to disperse.
“This is an unlawful assembly,” police warned.
At least two officers were pelted with plastic water bottles during the tense few hours after the shooting.
“Police officers are out doing their jobs,” Dotson told reporters. “We need support in the community.”
Along with Ball-Bey, a second man described as black and in his late teens, fled the house in the 1200 block of Walton Avenue and also was armed. He remains at large. At the house, near Page Boulevard, police confiscated crack cocaine and four guns, including the one police say the suspect had in his possession. It was described by police as a handgun with extended magazine stolen from Rolla, Mo.
The search warrant that police came to serve was for guns and narcotics involved in a felony.
Dotson said one officer shot three times, the other once. One is 33, the other 29, and both have been on the force for about seven years. In an interview later in the day, Dotson said he did not know where Ball-Bey had been shot.
“What I know right now is that somebody pointed a gun at police officers,” Dotson said at a news conference about 90 minutes after the shooting.
Police said officers were in the neighborhood “as it has been plagued by violence.” As officers were about to enter the house, two armed men ran out the back door. Police say Ball-Bey was armed with one gun, the other teen with two. Officers in an alley ordered the suspects to stop and drop their guns. At that point, Ball-Bey turned and pointed his gun at officers, police said.
“Fearing for their safety, two officers fired their weapons,” the police account of the shooting says. Police said there were other people in the house that were taken into custody, but did not specify how many.
As is routine, the two officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
A TOUGH BLOCK
Dotson said police had been at the same address to serve a search warrant about 18 months ago, and found several illegal guns. He said police have been in the area in recent days because of several shootings and the carjacking of a 93-year-old Tuskegee Airman on Sunday. It’s the same block where a toddler in July shot himself in the head after an uncle allegedly left him in a room with loaded weapons. The boy survived.
“This was an area we needed to be focusing in,” Dotson said. “Certainly the good people in this neighborhood should not be plagued by the violence.”
Wednesday’s shooting came on the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of Kajieme Powell, 25, in St. Louis. Some activists who were at a march Wednesday to remember Powell and protest his shooting left to go to the scene of the Walton Avenue shooting.
Also at the scene was Jerryl Christmas, attorney for the family of VonDerrit Myers Jr., an 18-year-old shot by police on Oct. 8 in the Shaw neighborhood. He said the city needs to center its attention on rebuilding neighborhoods instead of building a new stadium for the Rams.
“We need to focus on these areas that are deprived. I mean, look around,” Christmas said, pointing to vacant lots and abandoned buildings.
Some at the scene confronted police and questioned statements by Dotson. Robert Phillips, 30, was angry after hearing the police account that the dead man pointed a gun at officers.
“They always say that,” Phillips said.
Bedoe Harvey, 40, of nearby Bedoe’s Barbershop, said this section of town is not all bad.
“It’s not the neighborhood as a whole, it’s certain individuals,” Harvey said in defending the neighborhood. “There’s lots of poverty and everything.”
There were four homicides within a half-mile of Fountain Park this year before Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting.
On Monday, a man was fatally shot and a woman was injured in the 700 block of Aubert Avenue. Isaac Johnson, 30, was found on a sidewalk. He had been shot in the side, torso and legs. The woman told police she had gone to the area to buy drugs.
Joe Robinson, 37, who works with Better Family Life community outreach, was one of about a dozen people holding signs that read: “We must stop killing each other.”
“The sign says it all,” Robinson said.
Cahsem Liner, 37, said there are a reason guns are common in the neighborhood.
“You need to protect yourself from the senseless shootings, the gang violence,” Liner said. “That’s why people are armed down here.”
Lilly Fowler, Jack Witthaus, Joe Holleman, Tim O’Neil and Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.