Since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb has been struck by constant protests, and almost nightly violence. Overnight, things escalated from bad to worse. Though there was no curfew and the National Guard was ordered in to keep the peace, police officers still tear gassed the crowds, shot faux bullets, and arrested 31 individuals.
Police officers at the scene say that in the early hours of the morning, gunfire was directed at them. Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson addressed the public in regards to last night's protest, saying "our officers came under heavy gunfire." After the first few nights of the protest and excessive police response, Johnson was put in charge. Last night, he was seen trying to keep the peace; he refrained from wearing the full riot gear spotted on many other officers.
Though remnants of wooden and wax bullets were spotted by protesters around Ferguson, Captain Johnson said his officers say they did not participate in any of the actual live gunfire. "Not a single bullet was fired by officers despite coming under heavy attack," he explained, "This has to stop. I don't want anybody to get hurt. We have to find a way to stop this."
Two people suffered from gunshot wounds on Monday night. Both are currently in the hospital and neither their names, nor status have been released at this time. Johnson states they were shot by people in the crowd of protesters. Two guns and a molotov cocktail were confiscated from protesters, leading Captain Johnson to once again stress the need for a peaceful protest when he addressed reporters overnight.
Two buildings were also set on fire overnight — one residential, but unoccupied and the other a business. Businesses have been working to prevent looting, some hiring security guards, boarding up windows in advance, and closing shop early. The Ku Klux Klan even claims that they have been monitoring businesses against looting on behalf of some local residents, though their presence has been covert thus far.
The National Guard and Federal Bureau of Investigation are now on the scene in Ferguson. The FBI agents are assisting with the investigation of Michael Brown's death. As for the National Guard, their presence was supposed to bring calm to Ferguson, but so far they have a relatively limited role: standing guard of the police command center which was previously attacked.
Governor Jay Nixon explained, "With these additional resources in place the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will continue to respond appropriately to incidents of lawlessness and violence and protect the civil rights of all peaceful citizens to make their voices heard." Nonetheless, it was one of the most violent and distressing nights since of this now 10-day ordeal in Ferguson.