A young black man was shot by police on Sunday after violence broke out during a weekend of action commemorating the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, a black teen killed by a police officer on August 9, 2014.
The victim, identified as 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. by his father, remains in critical condition. He was reportedly shot by four plainclothes officers during a march Sunday evening after shots were fired at an unmarked detective vehicle. The St. Louis Police Department said Harris had fired at the officers, but details about the incident remain unclear. His girlfriend told news outlets that they had been attempting to reach their car to take cover from the gunfire and had not been involved in the shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, police brought in armored tanks and used tear gas to dispel demonstrators—similar to their response to the protests which followed Brown's death last year. On Twitter, activists noted the parallels.
We are back at the car. We were closer to Red's when we heard the shots. I literally feel like I'm back in 2014. Ferguson.
— deray mckesson (@deray) August 10, 2015
Harris had graduated from Normandy High School with Brown. His father, Tyrone Harris Sr., told STL Today that the two teens "were real close."
"We think there's a lot more to this than what's being said," Harris Sr. said.
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The police chief said the plainclothes detectives had been tracking Harris because they believed him to be armed. A young woman described by friends as the girlfriend of the injured man sat sobbing hysterically beside a row of shops opposite where he was shot. A large group of police in riot gear promptly marched towards the woman and her friends, driving them and protesters away from the scene as clergy peacekeepers pleaded with them to stand back from her.
The bursts of gunfire rang out at about 11.15pm near a block north of where protesters were squaring off with officers clad in riot gear for the first time during the largely peaceful anniversary weekend. Police, reporters and protesters gathered behind vehicles while others scattered. Dozens of shell casings were recovered by police.
The four detectives will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said during a press conference on Sunday.
The Ferguson Action Council, a coalition of activists who helped organize the weekend's events, released a statement criticizing the police response to the shooting, which they called "excessive and antagonistic."
"It was a poor decision to use plainclothes officers in a protest setting because it made it difficult for people to identify police officers, which is essential to the safety of community members," Kayla Reed of the Organization of Black Struggle, said in a statement.
"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," Reed said.
Follow the updates on this event on Twitter under the hashtag #Ferguson.