As the St. Louis metro area awaits a grand jury decision in the police shooting death of Michael Brown, gun sales are skyrocketing, a local gun store owner said Monday.
Steven King, who owns Metro Shooting Supplies in Bridgeton, Mo., near Ferguson, told CNN that gun sales “went up exponentially” following the protests in the aftermath of the shooting 18-year-old Micheal Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
Sales have tapered off since then, said King, but “have started to skyrocket once again” as a St. Louis County grand jury nears a decision on whether or not to charge Wilson for Brown’s death.
St. Louis County prosecutors have said that presentation to the grand jury should wrap up as early as this week.
“One-hundred percent of the people that have bought a firearm have bought it because of some sort of fear of the unknown, what’s going to happen this next week or so with the Ferguson verdict,” King said Monday.
“They saw what the protesters are capable of doing in August. And now they are determined not to have their guard down this time around.”
Protests began on the same day of the shooting, fueled by claims that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering even while Wilson shot him. Wilson has maintained that Brown first attacked him and that Brown was charging towards him before he fired several final shots.
Some of the protests bubbled over into looting and violence.
“They were in fear that their house was going to get burned down or burglarized or destroyed by the looters and the vandals,” said King.
People of all ages and races have come to King’s store to purchase firearms, he said. They have also come from farther away than normal, up to 50 miles outside of town in some cases.
Numerous reports have indicated that local and state law enforcement agencies are preparing for the worst in the event of the grand jury’s decision to decline pressing charges against Wilson.
Information that has leaked so far from the investigation and the grand jury has been favorable to Wilson’s version of events.
According to an MSNBC report on Monday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon plans to redeploy the National Guard to Ferguson following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision. Residents in the St. Louis metro area have reported seeing the movement of military-grade vehicles in and around the Ferguson area.