Protests broke out in south St. Louis late Wednesday after a white police officer fatally shot an 18-year-old black man who police say opened fire during a chase, just after tensions in the area had largely cooled following a similar shooting in August.
The shooting happened just weeks after another police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in the nearby suburb of Ferguson, triggering weeks of sometimes violent protests.
St. Louis Police Chief Col. Sam Dotson told reporters Thursday that an off-duty police officer was patrolling a neighborhood for a private security company Wednesday night when he saw three men run from him, according to the Associated Press. He gave chase, believing that one of the men had a weapon from the way he grabbed his waistband. That man then turned and approached the officer, and during an ensuing altercation fired at the officer, according to Dotson. The officer, a 6-year veteran of the police department who was not identified, responded by firing 17 shots, killing the man. It’s unclear why the officer fired that many rounds.
But relatives of the man shot by the officer said he had been unarmed, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.
“He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun,” Teyonna Myers, who said she was the man’s cousin, told the Dispatch. “It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”
A crowd of some 300 people gathered late Wednesday and into Thursday, though most people dispersed by Thursday morning. Several police cars were damaged, but Dotson said no arrests were made.