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Three shot amid violence in Ferguson

Three shot amid violence in Ferguson

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FERGUSON      Three people were shot, a gas station was looted, 100 shots were fired, a portable restroom and trashcans were set on fire and several police vehicles were vandalized during violence that erupted here Tuesday night, according to Acting Ferguson Police Chief Al Eickhoff.

Two of the shooting victims were shot in the neck, and one was shot in the leg, Eickhoff said, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. A 20-year-old St. Louis County man was arrested for one of the shootings.

Police made at least five arrests for charges including burglary and flourishing a weapon. Most of the arrests stemmed from the looting of a gas station in Dellwood. Police arrested one man for firing a gun from a vehicle, Eickhoff said.

The windshields on two Ferguson police vehicles were broken, and both sustained body damage from rocks, bricks and concrete blocks being hurled at them, Eickhoff said.

St. Louis County police confirmed that a window on the department's armored vehicle known as the BearCat was broken during the violence.

In all, Eickhoff estimated that about 150 officers from St. Louis County, Missouri Highway Patrol and surrounding municipalities responded to control the crowd.

"This community is trying to move forward and there are people who are just set on violence," Eickhoff said. "(The people who committed crimes) were not protesters, they were just a criminal element set on undoing all that this community has done to move forward."

Eickhoff said Tuesday night's crowd was the largest he had seen solely committed to violence.

"We've got a certain amount of a criminal element that do not want to see the community move forward. We've got a completely new face on the city council and we're changing things. I'm not sure if they're just resisting it or what. The three shooting victims we had were rioters, and while we're trying to take care of the victims, they're intent on damaging the policemen who are trying to help the rioters that have been shot."

Eickhoff said a crowd began gathering around 9 p.m. 

A man was shot in the lower leg as a group of about 50 protesters took to West Florissant Avenue near Canfield Drive. The man was carried to the safety of Northland Chop Suey, 9240 West Florissant Avenue, by bystanders and a Post-Dispatch photographer at the scene.

Police who were monitoring the gathering quickly took a person into custody in the shooting and recovered a gun, but it was unclear if the shooting was related to the gathering.

At times people blocked traffic on West Florissant.

The site is near where Michael Brown was fatally shot in August by then-Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s death touched off weeks of protests and unrest.

The latest demonstration came as protesters faced off with police in Baltimore over the death of a man injured there while in police custody.

By about 11 p.m., a line of protesters faced off with a line of police cars blocking West Florissant. The protesters' chants included "No justice, no peace" and "Hey hey, ho ho, these killer cops have got to go."

Officers on loudspeakers ordered the protesters to disperse, telling them they were "unlawfully assembled."

By 11:30 p.m., many of the protesters got into cars and drove up and down the street, horns blaring and tires spinning. Police then began warning that they might make arrests and use "chemical munitions" to disperse them.

About 11:50 p.m., witnesses reported hearing up to 15 gunshots in the area of the protests. 

Just after midnight, police responded to reports of shots fired and one victim wounded on Windward Court, the street that runs through an area with several apartment complexes, including Canfield Green. Several protesters had retreated to this area after police ordered them to disperse from West Florissant Avenue.

The arsons began around 1 a.m.

Eickhoff said he remained in Ferguson until about 3:30 a.m.

"It's not like we can walk away and let this community get destroyed," he said. "It takes a lot of policemen to handle these situations. We're all wiped out and wondering, with all of the people trying to get this community to go forward and heal and come together, why we've got this element that's like, 'We're not going to let you, we're going to destroy everything.'

"The businesses are going to leave, there are going to be no more jobs. Some people just don't get it. You're destroying community that you live in, if you even live in Ferguson."

Valerie Schremp-Hahn and David Carson of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report

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