Protests erupted and Twitter was ablaze after early reports from St. Louis had an off-duty police officer involved in the fatal shooting of a teenager in south St. Louis Wednesday night.
Conflicting reports have emerged since the shooting, but in an early Thursday morning briefing, Police Chief Sam Dotson said the man fired three shots at the officer first. The officer, a six-year veteran of the department, returned fire 17 times. Witnesses and people who identified themselves as the teen’s family claim that the the young man was holding a sandwich when he was shot some 16 times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
News of the shooting rubbed raw an unhealed wound for many St. Louis residents who have yet to recover from the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of unarmed Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson.
As news of the latest shooting spread, residents and friends of the teen began to gather on the scene, according to the Post-Dispatch. Police say that several police cars were damaged during the crowd’s protest, but no arrests were made.
According to police Chief Sam Dotson, the off-duty police officer, who is a six-year veteran of the St. Louis police force, was working for a private security firm when he noticed three young men standing on a corner.
Dotson says one of the young men started to run and then stopped. The off-duty officer made a U-turn and all of the men took off, causing the officer to give chase. Earlier reports indicated that the officer was performing a ‘pedestrian check,’ but did not state what a pedestrian check is or how this check is executed.
Dotson told reporters that the officer chased the men, first in his vehicle and then on foot. The officer and the teen who was killed were involved in a scuffle, during which the teen got away.
The teen reportedly ran up a hill and allegedly took out a gun and shot at the officer three times before the gun jammed, at which point the officer fired his weapon 17 times. Dotson told reporters that he didn’t know how many times the teen was hit but that the officer was not injured during the shooting.
According to the Post-Dispatch, police recovered a 9mm Ruger at the scene. The police would not identify the teen, but they said that he was an 18-year-old, and then went to lengths during the press conference to say that the teen had been “no stranger to law enforcement.”
However, witnesses and people who identified themselves as relatives of the teen tell a very different story. According to the reports, the teen involved in the fatal shooting was 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. According to several witnesses who spoke with the Post-Dispatch, Myers was reportedly ‘tased’ before he was shot.