FERGUSON, Mo. – Two St. Louis City police officers were shot Wednesday afternoon in Ferguson while pursuing a vehicle wanted in connection with an overnight homicide.
The uniformed officers were in a marked patrol car when they attempted to stop the driver of a Toyota 4Runner around 1:15 p.m. in the 800 block of Rivertrail Court. While fleeing from police, the driver lost control of the vehicle near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Lang Drive.
Police said the people inside the 4Runner got out of the vehicle and began to run. At least one of the suspects opened fire, shooting two of the officers.
“He jumped over and he started shooting at an officer,” said an eyewitness, who asked not to be named.
Officers returned fire, striking that suspect — who was taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital and later died of his injuries, according to the St. Louis County Police Department.
The injured officers were taken to the same hospital for treatment. One of those officers was hit in the abdomen and underwent emergency surgery. He is recovering but still in very critical condition.
“They have discussed moving him to the ICU, so we are encouraged by that,” said St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden during a joint press conference with the St. Louis County Police Department. “He is not out of the woods, but the doctors will tell you he’s doing better now than when he first came here.”
The other officer was hit in the leg and remains hospitalized as well. The city officers involved are 21, 25, and 28 years old.
Aside from the suspect who was shot, two other suspects were taken into custody after a foot chase. Police said a long gun and pistol were recovered near the scene.
Prior to the shooting, police were investigating an overnight homicide at the Royal Palace Club on Natural Bridge Avenue at Lambdin Avenue. One person was shot in the head at the club around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday and died at the scene, while another person was shot in the leg. Police said the 4Runner was wanted relative to the homicide.
At an earlier press briefing on Wednesday, Hayden got emotional while talking about how it’s been a difficult time for first responders lately.
Two officers in the department were struck while responding to a crash on I-64 earlier this week. A mobile reserve officer was also shot at during a traffic stop Monday afternoon.
“This is a rough time,” said Hayden. “This is a very rough time for law enforcement and of course fire departments.”
The officer in serious condition had been with the department for 3.5 years and the other for 2.5 years.
“I know our city is praying for officers and their families, and we are grateful for the hard work of medical professionals caring for them,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones said in a statement posted on Twitter.
St. Louis County is handling the investigation in collaboration with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.