A police officer in suburban St. Louis fatally shot a man who pointed a gun at him outside a gas station on Tuesday night, the authorities said.
The episode occurred less than five miles from Ferguson, Mo., where the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in August by a white officer prompted months of protests and started a national conversation about race and the use of force by the police.
The St. Louis County Police said in a statement that a police officer from Berkeley, Mo., was doing “a routine business check” at a Mobil gas station near the St. Louis airport around 11:15 p.m. on Tuesday when he approached two men he saw along the building’s side.
“The Berkeley police officer exited his vehicle and approached the subjects when one of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer,” the county police department, which is leading the investigation, said in a statement. “Fearing for his life, the Berkeley officer fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him. The second subject fled the scene.”
The police said they had recovered a handgun at the scene.
Local news accounts and social media posts showed that a crowd of people had gathered outside the gasoline station after the shooting, and that a large group of police officers from several jurisdictions had responded.
Since Darren Wilson, the white officer in Ferguson, fatally shot the 18-year-old Michael Brown, protests have been almost daily occurrences around St. Louis. The demonstrations, which later spread across the country, have focused on the use of force by police officers against black men and highlighted a lack of trust between many around St. Louis and the police.
Berkeley, a mostly black suburb with about 9,000 residents, is among the dozens of small, working-class municipalities that surround St. Louis.
The city borders Ferguson, where an intensified round of protests began last month after a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Wilson. Though the demonstrations there have been mostly peaceful, two nights of sometimes-violent actions left several businesses and police cars burned and looted in the St. Louis area.
Since the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson, at least three other similar cases have occurred across the country.
A grand jury’s decision in New York not to indict a white officer in the death of Eric Garner, who was black, has spurred almost daily protests. In Milwaukee on Monday, the county prosecutor said he would not charge Christopher Manney, a white police officer who shot and killed a black resident, Dontre D. Hamilton, in April after a struggle in a park. And on Tuesday, a grand jury in Houston declined to indict a police officer, Juventino Castro, in the fatal shooting of Jordan Baker, an unarmed black man, at a strip mall in January.
The St. Louis County police chief was expected to speak about the episode in Berkeley on Wednesday morning.
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