ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two St. Louis police officers were hospitalized Wednesday after being shot in neighboring Ferguson.
Police Chief John Hayden said the two officers, both in their 20s, were in a marked squad car together around 1 p.m. when they spotted a car believed to have been involved in an overnight killing. They followed the car to Ferguson. When the officers approached the car, the occupants opened fire. Hayden said it wasn’t clear if the officers returned fire.
One officer was struck in the leg. The other was struck in the abdomen and critically wounded.
An emotional Hayden initially said that officer was in “very critical” condition, but at a 5 p.m. news conference, the chief said the officer was improving after surgery. He was still in critical condition.
Hayden said the officer who was shot in the leg was in stable condition, was in good spirits and was with his family.
Four people in the car were taken into custody. One of the suspects was shot and was being treated at the same hospital as the officers, said Lt. Col. Steve Sack with the St. Louis County Police Department. His condition was not available. Sack said he could not say if the suspect was shot by police.
Hayden said the critically injured officer has been with the department 3 1/2 years. The other officer has been with the department 2 1/2 years. Their names have not been released.
The shooting happened just blocks from where Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, fatally shot Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black man, on Aug. 9, 2014, setting off months of unrest. Wilson was not charged and resigned from the police force in November 2014.
On Monday, two St. Louis officers were critically injured when they were struck by a vehicle on Interstate 64 as they responded to a crash. Four other people also were struck, leaving three of them critically injured.
“It’s just a tough time to be a first responder,” Hayden said. “We’re hearing about critical incidents daily, and it’s just tough. They’re doing everything they can to keep people safe and we keep having these critical incidents.”