The Shaw, St. Louis Shooting Of Black Teenager Vonderrit Myers Jr Could Become Another Ferguson

On Wednesday night, in a town a few miles south of Ferguson, Missouri, an off-duty St. Louis cop killed black teen Vonderrit Myers Jr, shooting him 17 times. Though the details are still fuzzy — the police officer hasn't even been named yet — the police force is claiming that this is definitely not another Mike Brown situation: for one thing, Myers allegedly shot at the cop first. But while the incident remains murky, enraged protesters have already taken to the streets.

Here's how it went down, according to Police Chief Sam Dotson: at 7:30 Wednesday night, in Shaw, Mo, an off-duty police officer (who was nonetheless wearing his St. Louis police uniform, because he was working a security job) passed three men he thought looked suspicious. As he moved in to get a closer look, the guys ran away, so he went after them. One of them apparently grabbed his waistband in a way that "indicated he was carrying a weapon," so the cop decided to focus his chase on him. Eventually, he caught up with the guy; after a brief struggle, the teenager, Myers, fired a gun three times, and the cop responded in full — he shot the young man 17 times, killing him.

As St. Louis Police Lt. Col. Alfred Adkins explained to the Associated Press:

As he exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street. The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed.

According to Dotson, investigators found a 9mm Ruger at the crime scene soon after the shooting; this was the gun allegedly used by the 18-year-old. But not everyone is convinced that Myers was armed, and the news quickly spread to social media, where the hashtag #shawshooting began to gain traction. Meanwhile, locals — no doubt fearful of a repeat of the infamous August 9 incident which saw unarmed teen Michael Brown fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson — took to the streets only hours after the shooting took place. Many shouted the now-well-known “Hands up, Don’t shoot” mantra, and stayed demonstrating until early Thursday.

Said Teyonna Myers, a relative of the victim's, to Margaret Gillerman of the St Louis Post-Dispatch:

He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It's like Michael Brown all over again.

While nothing is certain, the anger this incident has ignited certainly feels very familiar.