By Alan Scher Zagier and Jim Salter Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — A large crowd, some chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” gathered Tuesday at the site where St. Louis police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man after a reported convenience store robbery.
The shooting happened just a few miles from Ferguson, where a police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown, has touched off days of protests.
St. Louis Police Capt. Ed Kuntz said police responded shortly after noon following a report of a robbery at a convenience store. The man, 23, had a knife and refused police orders to drop the weapon, Kuntz said.
When the man allegedly raised the knife and moved toward the officers, both opened fire, killing him, said Kuntz, who commands the police district where the incident occurred.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said the man was acting erratically and told officers to “shoot me now, kill me now.”
A man who said he witnessed the shooting, Robert Addison, 36, said the suspect cursed officers as he told them, “You’ll have to kill me.”
Both officers were placed on administrative duty pending an investigation, but Kuntz said the shooting appeared to be justified. The names of the officers and the suspect were not immediately released.
Still, a crowd of about 100 onlookers gathered at the site within an hour of the shooting. Some chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” which has become the mantra of protesters in Ferguson.
Brown’s death at the hands of a white Ferguson officer on Aug. 9 has led to several days of clashes between protesters and police. Both Brown and the man killed in St. Louis were black.
Ferguson officer Darren Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting of Brown. The investigation could be turned over to a grand jury as early as Wednesday, though it isn’t clear how long it will be before a determination is made about whether Wilson will be charged.