“We think there’s a lot more to this than what’s being said,” Harris Sr. said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, adding that his son had graduated from Normandy High School.
Harris Sr. also added that his son had just come out of surgery early on Monday.
Jon Belmar, the head of St. Louis County police, said that a man opened fire on plainclothes detectives on Sunday evening. He was then pursued and shot by officers. The police chief did not identify the suspect, but said he was in a “critical” and “unstable” condition in hospital and undergoing surgery.
Belmar added that the suspect had been tracked throughout the protest as police believed he was armed. Officers allege the suspect approached the detectives who were sitting in a van and opened fire with a 9mm gun that had been stolen last year.
The officers have all been placed on administrative leave, in keeping with standard practice after police-involved shootings. Belmar said none of the officers, who have between six and 12 years’ experience, was seriously injured.
Andre Anderson, the acting head of Ferguson’s Police Department, added that several people were detained during the protests, but did not specify how many had been arrested.
The gunfire occurred as Anderson was speaking to CNN about how the police, “just wanted to be as patient as possible.” As he talked, some 20 shots could clearly be heard in the background. The clip of the incident showed the police chief was shocked, as he looked away in awe when the shooting began.
The head of St. Louis County police also told a news conference on Monday morning that a second shooting had occurred in Ferguson. The incident reportedly involved two groups of people on the west side of West Florissant Avenue. It happened just before police shot Harris Jr.
Belmar added that 40 and 50 shots were fired in an exchange between the two groups, and the incident he described as “remarkable” lasted around 45 seconds. “They were criminals. They weren’t protesters,” Belmar said of those involved in the shootings. He did not say if there were any casualties from the shooting on West Florissant Avenue.
Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. He was walking through a St. Louis suburb when he became involved in an altercation with the officer. Wilson fired approximately 12 shots from his department-issued handgun. At least eight of them struck the teen’s body and two were fired at his head, despite the fact that Brown was unarmed.
A grand jury and the US Department of Justice refused to prosecute Wilson, which led to riots in Ferguson and across the US, with protesters angered in their belief that justice had not been served.