More details have emerged today showing how the protests outside the Ferguson police department on Wednesday night suddenly turned violent just as the crowds were starting to wind down.
Two police officers were shot, but released from the hospital this morning, the St. Louis County police department said in a Facebook post.
The manhunt for the suspect or suspects who fired the shots is “the number one priority” for the St. Louis County Police Department, authorities said.
Here is a timeline of how the night unfolded:
5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson’s resignation is announced, one week after the Justice Department released a damning report on what they concluded was widespread racial bias within the police department. The removal of Jackson, who originally came under fire in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in August and the ensuing violent protests, was described as a “mutual decision” by Jackson and city administrators.
Jackson did not appear publicly on Wednesday, instead having Ferguson mayor James Knowles address the media and confirm the decision.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that he received a call from his chief of staff who warned him that they should expect protesters to gather in the parking lot of the Ferguson police department.
"I called my staff and I said, 'Listen, I want this like we always do this. I want this to be a very measured response by the police department,'" Belmar said.
Protesters started blocking South Florissant Road, where the Ferguson police department is located.
A code 1000 was called, which means that the closest 25 police cars are called to assist at the police department. At the time, Belmar said that about 150 protesters were gathered on the roadway.
The first protester is arrested on the charges of failure to comply, endangering the welfare of a child, resisting and interfering with arrest, and being in the roadway, Belmar said. The individual's name was not released.
Over the course of the next hour, the number of protesters in the area fluctuated, first with many leaving but then by 10:00 more arrive prompting a second 1000 call for an additional 25 officers. All told, there are 69 officers at the scene after that call, Belmar said.
A second arrest is made of another individual. In spite of the arrest, Belmar said that he went to bed around this time because the situation appeared to be under control.
“I didn’t really expect the agitation,” Belmar said.
A third, and final, arrest is made -- though no further details are given about this individual. Belmar said that the crowd was starting to disperse at this point.
“In fact, by about quarter to midnight we're beginning to see not only the crowd beginning to leave, but also seeing the police officers that are going to be leaving, some of them,” Belmar said.
12:00 a.m. Thursday
Police hear three or four gunshots, which “immediately strike two officers standing next to each other,” Belmar said.
Belmar guessed that there were approximately 75 protesters gathered and 40 police officers. Of the officers, 20 to 25 of them were standing in a line.
The order in which the officers were shot has not been confirmed and neither have the officers’ identities.