While details continue to emerge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by police in Ferguson, Mo., protesters turned looters on Sunday night as several stores were ransacked, vehicles were vandalized and police in riot gear were taunted as tensions continued to mount over exactly what happened that cost Michael Brown his life.
According to the Associated Press, a presumably peaceful candlelight vigil Sunday night in Ferguson—a predominantly black suburb outside St. Louis—to honor the memory of the 18-year-old, who was shot multiple times by police, turned chaotic after “businesses near the shooting scene were looted, including a convenience store, a check-cashing store, a boutique and a small grocery store.”
Video footage of the scene posted online by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows a convenience store on fire. Other video footage shows people running out of stores with items and some jumping atop police cars.
“The small group of people are creating a huge mess,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told news station KTVI-TV about the looting. “Contributing to the unrest that is going on is not going to help. … We’re only hurting ourselves, only hurting our community, hurting our neighbors.”
Although the motive for the attempted arrest and subsequent shooting of Brown remained unclear, witnesses to the incident have told a very different story from that of the police. According to early reports, Brown, who was set to start college on Monday, was going to visit his grandmother Saturday when police approached him. He was arrested and placed in the back of a police car.
“I witnessed the police chase after the guy, full force. He ran for his life,” Piaget Crenshaw, 19, told the Chicago Tribune. “They shot him and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told AP a very different version of what happened. Belmar claims that two men were seen standing outside an apartment complex in Ferguson. Police approached the men and the officer arrested Brown. A struggle ensued and at least one shot was fired inside the squad car, according to Belmar. It was unclear if Brown or the second man was the one who allegedly struggled with the officer, AP reported.
That struggle made its way outside the police car and left Brown dead. Police confirmed that Brown was not armed and that shell casings found at the scene match the officer’s gun. AP reports that police are still trying to sort out exactly what happened that night.
The second man who was standing with Brown that night has not been named or charged in the incident.