Ferguson, Mo. – The search for suspects continues on Friday, in the shooting that wounded two police officers at a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department just after midnight on Thursday.
Reuters reported that while “investigators scoured streets near the scene of the shooting for clues” and several people were brought in for questioning after a SWAT team raided a Ferguson home, they were all later released and there have been no arrests.
On Thursday night, residents gathered to hold a candlelight vigil where they grieved for the wounded officers and prayed for the community of Ferguson as it moves forward.
The Associated Press reported that while the vigil was followed by about 200 protesters gathering outside of the police department, “the scene was a marked contrast to the previous night, when fights broke out before the shootings.”
President Obama addressed the shooting on Thursday night during an appearance on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. He called the discrimination in Ferguson “oppressive and objectionable” and “worthy of protest,” but said that there was “no excuse for criminal acts.”
“Whoever fired those shots should not detract from the issue — they are criminals, they need to be arrested,” Obama said. “And then what we need to do is make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides — law enforcement, who have a terrifically tough job, and people who understandably don’t want to be stopped and harassed just because of their race — that they are able to work together to come up with some good answers.”
Obama has yet to visit the St. Louis suburb since protests initially broke out following the death of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot by white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9, 2014.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that the shooting on Thursday came at a time when many in Ferguson “had expected a peaceful night,” given the fact that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson had announced his resignation on Wednesday night following the release of a scathing report from the Department of Justice that revealed racial bias and discrimination against the black community in Ferguson.
During a press conference on Thursday morning, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that both officers, one who was shot in the shoulder and the other in the face, were lucky to be alive. Belmar called the shooting “an ambush” and said that the muzzle flashes from the suspect’s gun came from about 125 yards away, indicating that the suspect was embedded in the crowd of protestors.
In contrast, activist Rev. Osagyefo Sekou from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who is on the ground in Ferguson, told Ben Swann that the gunshots came from “an area where the protestors were not gathered.”
“Those shots did not come from the protestors, contrary to what Chief Belmar said. The shots were not coming from someone who was embedded with us,” Sekou said. “As a community, we’ve been grieving for over 200 days, and we grieve with the families of the police officers.”