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 police claim that the teen was armed and fired at least three shots at the officer before his gun jammed. 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, who held a press conference early Thursday morning, 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, the Post-Dispatch reports. 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 to the Post-Dispatch 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.
It didn't take long for news of the shooting to spread on social media, with many finding early reports of the shooting to be eerily close to those involving Michael Brown. The hashtag #shawshooting was trending on Twitter a few hours after the shooting happened.
"My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They tased him," Jackie Williams, 47, who identified himself as Myers' uncle, told the Post-Dispatch. Williams says Myers lived with him and was close to his house when he was shot. "I don't know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That's outright murder."
"He was unarmed," said Teyonna Myers, 23, who told the Post-Dispatch that Myers was her cousin. "He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It's like Michael Brown all over again."
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.