FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The FBI said it opened an investigation Monday into the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by police in suburban St. Louis, a day after tension surrounding the case erupted in unrest following a candlelight vigil for the teen.
Questions loomed over the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who police said was unarmed and shot multiple times Saturday after an altercation with an officer in Ferguson. It's unclear whether Brown or a man he was with was involved in the alleged scuffle, and authorities have been vague about what led an officer to open fire.
But Dorian Johnson told WALB-TV that he and Brown were walking home from a convenience store when a police officer told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Johnson said they kept walking, which caused the officer to confront them from his car and then outside his car.
Johnson said the officer fired, and he and Brown were scared and ran away.
"He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and he started to get down," Johnson said. "But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots."
"We wasn't causing harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all," Johnson told the television station.
The St. Louis County Police Department, which is leading the investigation, refused to discuss Johnson's remarks, citing the ongoing investigation. But County Police Chief Jon Belmar has previously said that an officer encountered Brown and another man outside an apartment complex in Ferguson, and that one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car and they struggled before the shooting.
The FBI is looking into possible civil rights violations arising from the shooting, said Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the FBI's St. Louis field office. But she noted that the FBI would be investigating such a shooting regardless of the public attention surrounding it.
Nearly three dozen people were arrested after tensions around the case following a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as crowds looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles and taunted officers who tried to block access to parts of the city.
Deanel Trout, a 14-year resident of Ferguson, said he was convinced the troublemakers were largely from outside Ferguson and that they had used Brown's death and the vigil as an opportunity to steal.
"Most came here for a peaceful protest but it takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. ... I can understand the anger and unrest but I can't understand the violence and looting," Trout, 53, said.
St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said 32 people were arrested for various infractions, including assault, burglary and theft. Schellman said two officers suffered minor injuries and that there were no reports of civilians hurt.
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