St. Louis police gather at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting at Walton Avenue and Page Boulevard in St. Louis. An armed man fleeing from officers serving a search warrant at a home in a crime-troubled section of north St. Louis was shot and killed Wednesday by police after he pointed a gun at them, the police chief said. (David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
At least nine people were arrested Wednesday and St. Louis police used tear gas to clear a street of protesters after an armed man fleeing from officers was shot and killed when he pointed a gun at them.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a press conference late Wednesday night that a group of protesters who had blocked an intersection threw glass bottles and bricks at officers and refused orders to clear the roadway. Inert gas was used and when that didn’t have any effect on the crowd, police turned to tear gas to clear the intersection, Dotson said. Those arrested face charges of impeding the flow of traffic and resisting arrest, he said.
In addition to the arrests, officers responded to reports of burglaries in the area and the fire department was called after a car was set ablaze, according to Dotson.
The chief blamed the crimes on people seeking “notoriety” in a neighborhood “plagued by violence.” Dotson added that police would release video showing that officers gave multiple orders to clear the street and repeatedly warned that the tear gas would be used.
The latest shooting came with tensions already high in the area after violence erupted during several events earlier this month marking the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old fatally shot last year by a police officer in nearby Ferguson.
Dotson said two police officers serving a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at a home in a crime-troubled section of the city’s north side encountered two suspects, one of which was 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey. The suspects were fleeing the home as Ball-Bey, who was black, turned and pointed a handgun at the officers, who shot him, the chief said. Ball-Bey died at the scene.
Both officers, who are white, were unharmed, according to a police report.
Dotson said four guns, including the handgun wielded by Ball-Bey, and crack cocaine were recovered at or near the home, which last year yielded illegal guns during a police search. Police are searching for the second suspect, who they said is believed to be in his mid-to-late teens.
A man and woman who were also inside the home were arrested, Dotson said.
Police obtained the search warrant because they believed the home harbored suspects in other crimes, Dotson said. He didn’t specify which crimes, but noted that a killing happened on the same street Monday and a nearby market just was riddled by bullets.
That area also is near where a 93-year-old veteran who was part of the Tuskegee Airmen — black World War II pilots — was the victim of crimes twice within a few minutes Sunday, being robbed and then having his car stolen. The veteran was unhurt, and his car was found Tuesday blocks from where it was taken.
Roughly 150 people gathered Wednesday afternoon near the scene of the shooting, questioning the use of deadly force. Some chanted “Black Lives Matter,” a mantra used after Brown’s death. As police removed their yellow tape that cordoned off the scene, dozens of people converged on the home’s front yard, many chanting insults and gesturing obscenely at officers. Several onlookers surrounded individual officers, yelling at them.
“Another youth down by the hands of police,” Dex Dockett, 42, who lives nearby, told a reporter. “What could have been done different to de-escalate rather than escalate? They (police) come in with an us-against-them mentality. You’ve got to have the right kind of cops to engage in these types of neighborhoods.”
Another neighborhood resident, Fred Price, said he was skeptical about Dotson’s account that the suspect pointed a gun at officers before being mortally wounded.
“They provoked the situation,” Price, 33, said. “Situations like this make us want to keep the police out of the neighborhood. They’re shooting first, then asking questions.”
Some of those who protested Ball-Bey’s death had already spent the morning in downtown St. Louis, marching to mark the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Kajieme Powell. He was fatally shot by two St. Louis officers after police said he approached them with a knife. Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce is still reviewing the case to determine whether lethal force was justified.
Protests have become a familiar scene across the St. Louis region since Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, who resigned in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.