Police shooting, protests put Ferguson back on edge

Man Shot at Ferguson 1-Year Anniversary Protest

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) -- Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots and police critically wounded a black 18-year-old accused of opening fire on officers.

Police, protesters and people who live and work in the St. Louis suburb were bracing for what nightfall might bring following more violence along West Florissant Avenue, the same thoroughfare that was the site of massive protests and rioting after Brown was fatally shot last year in a confrontation with a white Ferguson officer.

"Of course I'm worried," said Sandy Sansevere, a retired health care worker who volunteers at the retail store operated by the nonprofit group I Love Ferguson, which was formed after Brown's death to promote the community. "What scares me are the guns."

Related: See photos from the past year of unrest since Michael Brown's death:

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Police shooting, protests put Ferguson back on edge
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A police squad car is turned over by demonstrators during a protest on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Yesterday protesting turned into rioting following the grand jury announcement to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 11: Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed Saturday in this suburban St. Louis community. Yesterday 32 arrests were made after protests turned into rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 16: Police stand guard before the mandatory midnight curfew on August 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The curfew was imposed on Saturday in an attempt to reign in the violence that has erupted nearly every night in the suburban St. Louis town since the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest against the August 9 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by holding their hands up while gathered on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri late on August 16, 2014. A crowd of some 200 demonstrators defied a curfew that came into effect in Ferguson early on August 17, days after police shot dead the unarmed black teen, triggering a wave of rioting. AFP PHOTO / Joshua LOTT (Photo credit should read Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: A demonstrator protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer gets help after being maced by police on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 15: Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting of Michael Brown on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Protestors raise their hands and chant 'Hands up, don't shoot' as a rally cry to draw attention to reports that stated Brown's hands were raised when he was shot. Tonight demonstration again ended with protestors clashing with police followed by more looting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests raise their hands as they wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket is lowered into the ground during the funeral for his son Michael Brown at St. Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 24: Michael Brown Sr. (L) and Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton (2nd from left) hold up their hands as attorny Benjamin Crump (R) speaks at Peace Fest music festival in Forest Park on August 24, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Brown is the father of Michael Brown who was shot and killed by a police officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. Michael will be buried tomorrow. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 01: Students stage a 'die in' at Washington University to draw attention to police abuse on December 1, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 'die in' was part a nationwide protest calling for workers to walk off their jobs and students to walk out of their classes to call attention to the perceived miscarriage of justice sparked by the August 9th death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. When the grand jury announced on November 24, that Wilson would not face charges in the shooting rioting and looting broke out throughout the area leaving several businesses burned to the ground. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: People leave a liquor store with items after protestors rioted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson. (Photo by Eric Thayer for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 16: Business owner Mustafa Alshalabi cleans damage to his store, Sam's Meat Market, after it was looted during another night of rioting following protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Alshalabi is carrying a firearm on his side in order to protect his property. Looters ransacked several businesses for several hours as police held a position nearby with military grade weapons and armored personnel carriers (APC). Violent outbreaks have taken place almost nightly in Ferguson since the shooting death of Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: Hundreds of demonstrators, many of them Howard University students, march down the middle of U Street Northwest after a grand jury did not intict the white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Missouri November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: People protest in Times Square over the Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case November 25, 2014 in New York City. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, MO police officer, on August 9. Violent protests erupted across the nation yesterday after the grand jury's verdict was announced, most notably in Ferguson, MO, where more than 25 buildings were burned down and stores were looted. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: A protestor stands in front of police vehicles with his hands up during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13: Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally on the campus of Saint Louis University on October 13, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted following the August 9, killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in suburban Ferguson. Another teenager, Vonderrit Myers Jr., Was killed by a St. Louis police officer on October 8. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)g (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Demonstrators protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer are confronted by police wearing riot gear on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - OCTOBER 13: Demonstrators confront police outside the Ferguson police station on October 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to heal since riots erupted following the August 9, killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in suburban Ferguson. Another teenager, Vonderrit Myers Jr., was killed by a St. Louis police officer on October 8. Several demonstrators and members of the clergy were arrested at the protest after a show of civil disobedience. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 12: Plywood covers the glass front of a strip mall along West Florissant Street on November 12, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Many businesses along West Florissant are boarded-up as residents prepare for the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Many of the stores along the street were looted and vandalized during rioting which broke out after Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer. The city is hoping to avoid a repeat of those riots if the grand jury investigating the shooting does not find justification to prosecute Wilson. The grand jury's decision is expected sometime in November. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A sign sits amidst rubble at a building that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas last night after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09: Demonstrators march through the streets protesting the October 8 killing of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer on October 9, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 26: Police stand guard as protests engulf Ferguson on November 26, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Over 2,000 Missouri national guardsmen are being deployed a day after demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas following a St. Louis County grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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The father of the suspect who was shot called the police version of events "a bunch of lies." He said two girls who were with his son told him he was unarmed and had been drawn into a dispute involving two groups of young people.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency, which authorizes county Police Chief Jon Belmar to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson.

Protests spilled outside of Ferguson. Almost 60 protesters were arrested around midday Monday for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis. Authorities planned to release them on a promise to appear later in court.

Protesters later briefly blocked Interstate 70 during the late afternoon rush hour, with an additional undetermined number of arrests made.

Among those arrested at the courthouse was scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West.

That protest, like other commemoration events over the past few days, was largely peaceful and somber. But on Sunday, several hundred people gathered in the street on West Florissant, ignoring an officer on a bullhorn repeatedly warning them to get to the sidewalk or face arrest. Eventually, a few lobbed glass bottles and rocks at officers. One officer was hospitalized with cuts to the face after being hit with a rock. Two others had minor injuries after protesters sprayed them with pepper spray.

As tensions escalated, several gunshots suddenly rang out from the area near a strip of stores, including some that had been looted moments earlier. Belmar believes the shots came from about six different shooters. What prompted the shooting was not clear, but Belmar said two groups had been feuding. The shots sent protesters and reporters running for cover.

The shooters included the suspect, Tyrone Harris Jr., whom police had been watching out of concern that he was armed, Belmar said.

During the gunfire, the suspect crossed the street and apparently spotted plainclothes officers arriving in an unmarked van with distinctive red and blue police lights, Belmar said. The suspect allegedly shot into the windshield of the van.

The four officers in the van fired back, then pursued the suspect on foot. The suspect again fired on the officers when he became trapped in a fenced-in area, the chief said, and all four opened fire.

Harris was in critical condition after surgery. Prosecutors announced 10 charges against him - five counts of armed criminal action, four counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and a firearms charge. All 10 are felonies.

All four officers in the van, each wearing protective vests, escaped injury. They were not wearing body cameras, Belmar said.

Tyrone Harris Sr. told The Associated Press his son was a close friend of Michael Brown and was in Ferguson on Sunday night to pay respects.

The elder Harris said his son got caught up in a dispute among two groups of young people and was "running for his life" after gunfire broke out.

"My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot," he said. "It's all a bunch of lies ... They're making my son look like a criminal."

Online court records show that Tyrone Harris Jr. was charged in November with stealing a motor vehicle and a gun, as well as resisting arrest by fleeing. A court hearing in that case is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Belmar said the suspect who fired on officers had a semi-automatic 9 mm gun that was stolen last year from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The police chief drew a distinction between the shooters and the protesters.

"They were criminals," he said of those involved in gunfire. "They weren't protesters."

Gov. Jay Nixon agreed, saying in a statement that such "reprehensible acts must not be allowed to silence the voices of peace and progress."

Some protest groups said police were too quick to go into riot mode. Others questioned why plainclothes officers were part of the patrol.

"After a year of protest and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer's account of the incident, which is clearly problematic," said Kayla Reed, a field organizer with the Organization of Black Struggle.

Belmar said it is common to use plainclothes officers. In addition, there were more than 100 uniformed officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments.

Some protest leaders worried about how the latest police shooting - especially on a day honoring Brown - could escalate tensions.

"It changes the equation," said Rebecca Ragland, an Episcopal priest who was part of a group that marched to the federal courthouse in St. Louis. "The way the police will respond now will be much more militaristic. It legitimizes a response from the police that's a lot more aggressive."

John Gaskin III, a member of the NAACP national board from St. Louis, was more hopeful.

"I don't believe there will be looting or rioting," he said. "That's not in my vocabulary. We have to have some faith."

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Associated Press writer Jim Suhr and photographer Jeff Roberson contributed to this report.


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