Dozens of looters descended on stores in a St. Louis suburb and a reporter was sucker-punched Sunday following a vigil being held for an unarmed man who was fatally shot by a police officer on Saturday.
“We are currently experiencing a riot,” said a Ferguson, Missouri police dispatcher Sunday, according to Reuters.
Tension escalated through the day after residents gathered to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Brown and a friend were walking down the street Saturday when an officer approached them in his squad car. An altercation ensued, and the officer fatally shot Brown.
Brown’s friend and other witnesses claim that the officer shot Brown multiple times even as he was surrendering.
While peaceful protests began Saturday and continued into Sunday, rioting ensued later in the night.
A YouTube video shows people sacking a QuikTrip convenience store, taking grocery items and beer.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a photographer working for the paper captured the scene, where a looter was yelling “Everything’s free at the QuikTrip!” Participants were stealing lottery tickets and trying to pry open the cash register, the paper reported.
The photographer was threatened during the looting, and one of the paper’s reporters was hit in the head from behind and had to be helped away by police.
A separate YouTube video of the looting at the QuikTrip showed graffiti reading “RIP Mike Mike.”
The store was also set on fire as was a nearby liquor store, according to KSDK.
Footage of looters was also captured at dozens of stores, including at a Family Dollar, an AutoZone, and a women’s beauty supply store.
Police scanner activity was heavy through the night Sunday with reports of shootings across the city, including one at a Wal-Mart. KSDK reported that between 20 and 25 Wal-Mart employees were huddled together in the store, which looters also hit.
A person was also assaulted near a Taco Bell.
Besides being outraged over the shooting, the looters were seemingly not put at ease by official statements released by St. Louis County police on Sunday.
“The genesis of this was a physical confrontation,” said St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar at a press conference.
He said that one shot was fired inside the police cruiser, as Brown attempted to take the officer’s weapon. Several shots were fired from the officer’s gun. The officer shot Brown 35 feet away from the cruiser.
The NAACP has become involved as well, claiming that Brown, who is black, was targeted because of his race. Police were also criticized heavily for bringing police dogs and a SWAT unit to help control the crowd that had gathered in the area.
Civil rights activist and MSNBC talk show host Al Sharpton plans to travel to Ferguson Monday. Benjamin Crump, the attorney hired to represent the family of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teen fatally shot by George Zimmerman, has been hired on to represent Brown’s family.