Police fired several rounds of tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, on the third consecutive night extreme tension has rocked the suburb of St. Louis.
Shortly before 1 a.m. ET — midnight local time — police began moving in to disperse crowds and told members of the press to stay in their designated area, reportedly arresting several people along the way. Police said they were clearing the area because there had been a gunshot victim early Tuesday morning, though that was unconfirmed.
“There’s been a gunshot victim,” an officer told CNN‘s Don Lemon on air shortly before 1 a.m. ET.
Protesters, meanwhile, reportedly lobbed several items, including Molotov cocktails and possibly rocks and water bottles, at police.
Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has been the site of racially charged protests since the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Clashes between protesters and police had calmed as the week progressed, but they ramped up again over the weekend.
Monday night was the first in three nights that Ferguson was not under a curfew, which had been lifted earlier in the day by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) after an ill-fated attempt to reduce the violence.
The images emerging from the latest round of tension and violence in Ferguson were surreal. On live television, protesters and members of the press were shown falling to the ground as they were hit with tear gas. On CNN, anchor Don Lemon and others wore gas masks at one point to protect themselves from being affected.
A grand jury could begin hearing the case as soon as Wednesday, according to The Associated Press, but it is not yet clear if Wilson will face criminal charges for Brown’s death — or when that decision would come.
President Barack Obama on Monday had weighed in on the situation in Ferguson, urging calm from all sides. He also said Attorney General Eric Holder would be travelling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with federal law-enforcement officials investigating Brown’s death. Obama said he told Nixon the use of the National Guard, members of which Nixon said he deployed to Ferguson on Monday, should be limited.
“Let’s seek to heal, rather than to wound each other,” Obama said in a statement from the White House.
Also on Monday, attorneys representing Brown’s family released the results of a private autopsy report conducted on Brown. The report said Brown was shot at least six times — including twice in the head. Pathologist Michael Baden, who conducted the autopsy at the family’s request, said two of the bullets might have ricocheted and re-entered Brown’s body.
The attorneys representing Brown’s family said the autopsy provided “ample evidence” that Wilson should already be arrested.
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