FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Michael Brown Sr. stood alone in the center of the narrow street where the blood of his namesake son still stained the gray pavement, two days after the 18-year-old was shot dead by a police officer. He straightened a waist-high wooden cross and re-lit the candles erected as part of a makeshift memorial.
"Big Mike," as some of his friends called Michael Brown Jr., wasn't the type to fight, family and neighbors said, though he lived in a restless neighborhood where police were on frequent patrol. His parents and neighbors described him as a good-hearted kid with an easy smile who certainly wouldn't have condoned the violence and looting that spread though his north St. Louis suburb following his death.
"He was funny, silly, he would make you laugh," his father said, and when there was "any problem going on, any situation, there wasn't nothing that he couldn't solve. He could bring people back together."
Brown, who was unarmed, was shot Saturday by a Ferguson police officer while walking with a friend down the center of the street. Police have said a scuffle broke out after the officer asked the boys to move to the side. Witnesses say Brown's arms were in the air — in a sign of surrender — as a white policeman repeatedly shot the black youth.
After a vigil Sunday night, an angry crowd looted stores, and a night later police in Ferguson fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters. The U.S. Justice Department has announced that its civil rights division is investigating, and Brown's family retained the same lawyer who represented relatives of Trayvon Martin — the Florida teen killed in a racially charged 2012 shooting. Civil rights activist Al Sharpton joined the family Tuesday to urge protesters to refrain from violence.
Brown was among a small group of students who had graduated Aug. 1 from Normandy High School, needing the summer to finish their required credits. He was to have started college his week for a career in heating and air conditioning engineering.
"We can't even celebrate; we've got to plan a funeral," said his tearful mother, Lesley McSpadden.
Brown had been staying at his grandmother's apartment when the shooting occurred, and family and neighbors said he had long shied away from confrontation.
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