Man arrested in connection to shooting of two officers in Ferguson, police say
FERGUSON, Mo. — Police have made an arrest in connection with the shooting last week of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis County Police Department said in a tweet Sunday.
Details of the arrest were sparse, but a jail spokesman confirmed Sunday a man was there on a 24-hour hold for assault against a police officer and firing at or from a vehicle.
On Friday, police said they were still chasing leads in the case and insisted the trail had not gone cold.
The shooting of two officers occurred during a Wednesday night protest in Ferguson, but authorities don’t know if the suspect or suspects had any connection to the demonstrations, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at the time.
“We could have buried two police officers,” Belmar told reporters last week. “I feel very confident that whoever did this … came there for whatever nefarious reason that it was.”
Public donations poured in to be used toward a reward to find the gunman and any accomplices, Belmar said.
Authorities offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of person or persons responsible for the gunfire upon the two officers, according to the St. Louis Regional CrimeStoppers website.
It was unclear if anyone would collect the reward after Sunday’s announcement of an arrest.
The shots rang out from a hill overlooking the city’s police station shortly after midnight Wednesday, at the end of a protest against the Ferguson Police Department.
Officers saw “muzzle flashes … about 125 yards away,” Belmar said.
Protesters said they had nothing to do with the shooting, saying the demonstrators believe in nonviolence.
“As the protest was dying down, someone, somewhere got violent. Now who they were and what group they were affiliated with, we don’t know,” said Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman. “In no way are they representative of the thousands of people … who have been protesting.”
Belmar believes someone targeted the police, who have faced heated criticism for months, he said.
“These police officers were standing there, and they were shot just because they were police officers,” he said.
The department has been under fire since one of its officers, Darren Wilson, shot and killed African-American teen Michael Brown in August, and more recently since a scathing U.S. Department of Justice report documented a pattern of racial discrimination. Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned Wednesday.
While the demonstrators’ focus was Ferguson, neither of the wounded officers works for that police department.
One is from Webster Groves, a St. Louis suburb 13 miles south of Ferguson. The officer — a 32-year-old with seven years’ experience — was shot at the high point of his cheek, just under his right eye, Belmar said.
The other was hit in the shoulder and the bullet came out the middle of his back, Belmar said. He is a 41-year-old officer with the St. Louis County Police Department, who has been in law enforcement for 14 years.
Both men were treated and released.