Who Is Tyrone Harris, A Man Shot By Police After He Allegedly Opened Fire During The Ferguson Protest?


What began as peaceful protests in Ferguson, Missouri ended in violence late Sunday, after multiple shootings took place on the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters early Monday morning that at least one suspected gunman was injured by police fire and taken to a local hospital, where he was in critical condition. And while authorities have yet to confirm the shooter's identity, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the gunman / shooting victim was Tyrone Harris, Jr.

The man in the hospital was identified by his father, Tyrone Harris, who told the Post-Dispatch that his 18-year-old son was alive and had gotten out of surgery just after 3 a.m. He said Harris graduated from Normandy High School and was friends with Brown, telling the newspaper that they "were real close." Harris Sr. added, “We think there’s a lot more to this than what’s being said.”

During the early-hours press conference, Belmar confirmed that the injured man shown in a graphic video uploaded by well-known protester Tony Rice (Search4Swag on Twitter) was the suspected gunman. In the video, a man is seen lying face down while Rice is heard screaming for an ambulance as he is chased by police. Belmar said the shooting victim was suspected of carrying a firearm, and was believed to have been involved in at least one shooting on West Florissant. The gunman later allegedly opened fire on four plainclothes detectives riding in an unmarked SUV. According to Belmar, a foot chase ended after the detectives shot at the gunman behind a store.

Sunday night was a complicated series of events, as separate shooting incidents resulted in an unknown number of injuries and arrests. To be honest, even now I've struggled on how to identify Harris — "suspected gunman," "alleged shooting victim," "Ferguson protester." And I'm fully conscious on how the choice of words can miscast or misrepresent what really went down.

Police have put the blame on a small number of demonstrators "intent on making sure that we don’t have peace that prevails." But protesters took to Twitter to claim that the police took unwarranted actions after the shootings, including allegedly tear-gassing people who sought to leave the scene. As authorities attempt to detangle what exactly went down and more information is released, it's an eerie feeling that we've been here before.