ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Four police officers were shot in downtown St. Louis amid ongoing violent protests Monday night; a shooting Police Chief John Hayden said was carried out by “cowardly” individuals.
The shooting happened near St. Louis police headquarters, around 16th and Olive, where a group of protesters and police had been clashing repeatedly throughout the night.
Hayden said the four officers all suffered non life-threatening injuries.
“They were standing near a line and all of a sudden they felt pain. They were just standing there. So some coward fired shots at officers and now we have four in the hospital, and thank God they’re alive,” an emotional Hayden said, visibly upset. “Can we make some sense out of this? This is horrible.”
Hayden said the officers had been engaged with a group of about 200 agitators throughout the night who were throwing rocks, breaking into businesses, stealing, shooting fireworks at officers, and dumping gasoline on them.
“We had officers who had gas poured on them. And we’re trying to figure out what is going on. How could this be? Mr. Floyd was killed somewhere else, and they’re tearing up cities all across the country,” Hayden said, speaking of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis last week.
Hayden complimented his officers on showing “great restraint” in difficult circumstances all night. Gunfire was still erupting into the early morning hours in downtown.
“As we speak, we’re trying to get control of the city,” Hayden said in a news conference outside Barnes-Jewish Hospital at 2:00 a.m. He said members of the Missouri National Guard, Missouri Highway Patrol, and St. Louis County Police Department, as well as federal assets, were offering support throughout the night.
“We need to pray for this city and pray for these officers,” he said.