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Fireworks go off in front of police, who with protesters in front of police headquarters in St. Louis on Monday, June 1, 2020. The small group of protesters was originally part of a much larger group demonstrating earlier in the afternoon against the death of George Floyd. (Colter Peterson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Police: 4 St. Louis officers hit by gunfire during protests

Protests that began peacefully over the death of George Floyd turned violent in the St. Louis area, where four police officers were shot and a retired St. Louis police captain was shot to death by looters at a pawn shop.

St. Louis police on Tuesday said 77-year-old David Dorn, who retired in 2007 after 38 years with the department, was fatally shot by a looter.

Several thousand people joined the demonstrations in St. Louis over Floyd’s death and police treatment of African Americans on Monday. But that night, a downtown convenience store was burned, windows were smashed, businesses burglarized and officers were pelted with rocks and fireworks.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson on Tuesday announced a 9 p.m. curfew.

“What started as a very nonviolent and peaceful demonstration and protest ended in looting, shooting, burning and attacks on law enforcement,” she said. “This cannot be and will not be tolerated.”

Just after midnight, with only a couple of hundred people still on the streets, someone opened fire on officers standing in line, Police Chief John Hayden said. Two officers were struck in the leg, one was hit in the foot and one was hit in the arm. All four are expected to recover.

Hayden choked back tears early Tuesday as he told reporters he was thankful they weren’t more seriously injured.

“Some coward fired shots at officers and now we have four in the hospital,” said Hayden. “But thankfully — thank God — they’re alive. They’re alive! Can we make some sense out of this? Can we make some sense out of this? That’s all I’m trying to say.”

No one has been arrested in that shooting.

Darryl Gray, St. Louis pastor and activist, said the injuries to the officers and the death of the former police captain were awful but that people need to understand the reasons for the rage.

“The anger and frustration and the hurt and the pain for over 400 years is not going to result in ‘peaceful.’ But we are going to try to continue to be nonviolent,” Gray said.

At about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, St. Louis officers in a marked police car who were searching for people stealing from businesses were shot at by men inside a car. Police chased the car into St. Louis County, where county officers joined the chase.

At a dead-end street in Jennings, just north of St. Louis, three suspects got out and ran and one of the men shot at the officers, St. Louis County Police spokesman Benjamin Granda said. One officer returned fire and struck the 21-year-old suspect, who is hospitalized with what police called life-threatening injuries. A 25-year-old man was taken into custody and the third suspect got away.

Granda said two guns were recovered at the scene.

The 39-year-old officer involved in the shooting is a five-year veteran of the force. No officers were injured in the Jennings shooting.

Also Monday, Mayor Quinton Lucas joined a protest in downtown Kansas City but police declared the gathering unlawful shortly after Lucas left, the Kansas City Star reported.

Police said protesters threw plastic bottles, a can of black beans, a shoe and other items at them. They responded with tear gas. No officers were injured.

A police spokesman said about 20 people were arrested, mostly for municipal charges related to the protest.

Protesters nationwide are decrying the May 25 death of Floyd, a handcuffed black man. The officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

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