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ST. LOUIS – Two St. Louis police officers were “ambushed” while patrolling a neighborhood north of downtown Friday afternoon and a bystander was struck by a stray bullet in the shooting, Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said.

According to the interim chief, the shooting occurred around 1:45 p.m. in the 800 block of Dixon. Officers in the gang investigation unit were in the neighborhood when they noticed two persons of interest. They tried to talk to those individuals, who then opened fire on the officers.

The officers sped away from the scene of the shooting and drove to 14th and Cass. Police swarmed the area in response. The wounded officers were rushed to a local hospital.

The officers were struck in their legs and hands, with additional shrapnel injuries to their faces. One officer was shot in the leg.  The other officer was shot in the arm and leg.  O’Toole said the male officer, 35, and female officer, 32, were in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.

In addition to the officers, an 24-year-old innocent bystander was struck by the suspects’ gunfire while standing in her home on N. 9th Street. She was rushed to the hospital and is listed in critical condition.

Police located and arrested two male suspects, ages 22 and 24. The interim chief said police also recovered two weapons from the scene: a 9mm pistol and a 7.62 modified rifle.

“These are violent offenders, this is what they do. They don’t want to be taken (into custody) and they don’t care what they do when they’re firing an assault rifle like this in an urban area,” O’Toole said.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson went to the hospital with O’Toole and met with the injured officers.

“It’s a dangerous job that they’re doing for us,” she said.

The two suspects will be eventually be charged with assaulting police officers, assault on the bystander, and other weapons-related charges.