Police in St. Louis killed a man they say brandished a knife and refused to drop it.
The victim yelled “Kill me now,” Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters today.
The incident occurred hours after police fired tear gas at protesters in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, which has been rocked by 10 days of civil unrest over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.
Doris Davis, a St. Louis resident who lives across the street from today’s shooting, said she saw two police officers fire on a man, who then fell over dead.
“I heard him say ‘No, no, no,’” she said of the man who was shot. “Then they started shooting.”
The killing by police could lead to more protest and unrest in the city, Davis said.
“It seems like a crowd is growing,” she said, pointing to a group of about 150 gathered near the scene of the shooting. “I’m hoping that it won’t be anything, but I’m not sure that it won’t. I’m making preparations to leave.”
Arturo Smith, a 31-year-old from St. Louis, said he was driving by when he saw a crowd gathered, with many chanting the same slogan that’s come to symbolize the protests in Ferguson: “Hands up. Don’t shoot.”
Smith said he believed the shooting will incite more flames in the St. Louis region, where Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to restore peace.
“This just set the city back on fire,” he said.
Less than five miles (eight kilometers) away in Ferguson, protesters are calling for charges against the officer involved in the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. A grand jury will begin an investigation tomorrow, said Ed Magee, a spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney.
President Barack Obama yesterday dispatched Attorney General Eric Holder to meet with federal and local authorities in Ferguson. The killing of Brown and images of armored trucks shooting tear gas and flash grenades at protesters have drawn international attention to the town of 21,000 that’s become a symbol of racial inequality and heavy-handed police tactics in the U.S.