RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Tense moments in Richmond Heights Friday afternoon and evening as demonstrators protested a fatal police shooting, blocked roads, and marched in the nearby Galleria mall.
It all started around 4 p.m. in front of the Richmond Heights Public Safety Building and grew from there.
Protesters blocked traffic for a time on Big Bend Boulevard right by Interstate 64 and the public safety building.
The move was part of a protest against the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Terry Tillman last Saturday afternoon near the Galleria.
Multiple protestors were openly carrying guns and other weapons.
Police moved in and threatened to arrest the protesters if they didn’t get out of the street.
Everyone left then the group moved to the Galleria, where they walked through the mall chanting and then wound up outside.
One of the protest organizers, who identified himself as Comrade Toussaint, voiced frustration with the actions of law enforcement.
“It was very unjustified. Our goal is to demonstrate that we’re tired and we’re not going to take this stuff anymore,” he said.
Chase Thorwegen, another protester who said she was one of Tillman’s friends, discussed the importance of Friday’s demonstration.
“Because we need answers and no one is answering anything,” she said. “It’s just story after story.”
St. Louis County police said two law officers saw Tillman inside the Galleria with a gun that had an extended magazine.
They approached Tillman because guns aren’t allowed on Galleria property. Investigators said Tillman ran and the officers gave chase and alerted dispatch about the pursuit.
Additional law enforcement arrived and county police said a Richmond Heights officer shot and killed Tillman at a parking garage near the Galleria after Tillman raised his gun at officers.
A pastor at the protest called the disruption productive.
“Protest is the voice of the unheard. And so many times you’re not going to bring awareness to an issue without protest,” said Pastor Clinton Stancil from the Wayman AME Church in north St. Louis.
“We got to address the issue that when African-Americans are confronted by police we end up dead. When Caucasians are confronted by police, they end up arrested.”
Some stores in the Galleria did close for a time when the protesters were inside the mall. One woman claimed protesters dented her vehicle during the roadblock.
However, police reportedly made no arrests.
The investigation into the officer-involved shooting is ongoing.
Besides guns not being allowed on Galleria property, police said Tillman’s criminal history prohibited him from possessing a firearm.