By Kevin Mcdermott, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
FERGUSON, Mo. — Two men were shot during the chaos of demonstrations late Monday and early Tuesday near West Florissant and Canfield, police confirmed. Officers weren’t involved in the shootings. There was no immediate information on the identities or conditions of the victims.
Police also confirmed that 31 people were arrested, including some who had come from as far as New York and California.
In an emotional news conference around 2:30 a.m. in the area of the protests, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson said the shootings demonstrate “a dangerous dynamic in the night” in which a few people determined to cause trouble can pull a whole crowd into it.
While he acknowledged there is currently no curfew in place, he urged legitimate protesters come out during the day from now on, rather than at night.
“We do not want to lose another life in this community,” said Johnson.
His comments came after a night punctuated by bottles thrown at police, two fires in the area, and scattered reports of gunfire.
“Our officers came under heavy fire,” said Johnson. He stressed that “not a single bullet was fired by officers.”
Johnson, who was put on charge of security in Ferguson last week under orders by Gov. Jay Nixon, appeared before a table that displayed two handguns that officers had confiscated in an unrelated incident during the night’s strife, as well as a Molotov cocktail.
Johnson said the weapons were confiscated from “violent agitators” who were using other peaceful protests as “cover” to cause conflicts with police.
“This nation is watching each and every one of us,” said Johnson, who was visibly angry and emotional during the news conference. “I am not going to let the criminals that have come here from across this country, or live in this neighborhood, define this community.”
Johnson also lectured reporters at the scene, telling them they were interfering with police and putting themselves in danger by failing to immediately clear areas when asked to by officers. He also implored reporters to “not glamorize the acts of criminals.”
Some reporters at the news conference pushed back, saying he was infringing on their ability to do their jobs by asking them to stay separate from protesters.
AFP Photo/Scott Olson
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