The city of Ferguson is "nervous, on edge, scared" as they await the grand jury's decision on the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown, a lawyer for the Brown family and protest leaders said today.
"The city is really in a panic at this moment," attorney Anthony Gray said in a press conference this afternoon.
Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Police Officer Darren Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.
Gray said that he has received "numerous calls, emails and text messages expressing concern from members of our community about their safety," including from residents who specifically say they are worried about how they are going to get necessary medication.
Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.
Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.
There were protests in the area both Wednesday and Thursday though with less than half a dozen arrests each night, they were far smaller than those held this summer.
“It’s a dicey situation right now,” Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told ABC News.
“We’re preparing for the worst, but we’re really hoping that the leadership… understands the property rights of others and the value of human life,” he said.
County Executive Charlie Dooley was more optimistic.
"I do not expect the worst and I said it then and I say it now. I expect the best in people. I am encouraged by conversations between law enforcement and protest groups," Dooley said.
Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed down.
"It’s hard to sleep when you've got this looming," Chief Jackson said.
One business owner, Charles Davis, has remained optimistic about the possible protests and refused to take any extra precautions to fend off looters.
Davis, who bought Ferguson Burger Bar & More the day before Brown was killed, told ABC News that he has received support from both locals and people across the country who have heard about his decision to stay open through any protests that come with the verdict.
“I had a gentleman yesterday who drove from Memphis just to get a burger,” Davis said. Memphis is about a four and a half hour drive from Ferguson.
“I’ve heard some things but that one brought me to tears,” he said.
Davis said his restaurant will be open on Saturday but closed Sunday, as always.