4 St. Louis police officers shot during violent protests downtown

“We need to pray for this city and pray for these officers.”

  • Updated

  • 10 min ago | Posted on Jun 2, 2020

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Four police officers were shot in downtown St. Louis amid ongoing violent protests Monday night; a shooting Police Chief John Hayden said was carried out by "cowardly" individuals.

The shooting happened near St. Louis police headquarters, around 16th and Olive, where a group of protesters and police had been clashing repeatedly throughout the night.

Read: Peaceful protests turn violent; fires, looting in downtown St. Louis

Hayden said the four officers all suffered non life-threatening injuries.

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“They were standing near a line and all of a sudden they felt pain. They were just standing there. So some coward fired shots at officers and now we have four in the hospital... and thank God they’re alive,” an emotional Hayden said, visibly upset. "Can we make some sense out of this? ... This is horrible.”

Hayden said the officers had been engaged with a group of about 200 agitators throughout the night who were throwing rocks, breaking into businesses, stealing, shooting fireworks at officers and dumping gasoline on them.

"We had officers who had gas poured on them. And we’re trying to figure out what is going on. How could this be? Mr. Floyd was killed somewhere else, and they’re tearing up cities all across the country," Hayden said, speaking of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis last week.

Hayden complimented his officers on showing "great restraint" in difficult circumstances all night. Gunfire was still erupting into the early morning hours in downtown.

[WATCH: "These people aren't here for George Floyd, these people are here for themselves;" Lewis Reed condemns downtown violence]

"As we speak, we're trying to get control of the city," Hayden said in a news conference outside Barnes-Jewish Hospital at 2:00 a.m. He said members of the Missouri National Guard, Missouri Highway Patrol and St. Louis County Police Department, as well as federal assets, were offering support throughout the night.

“We need to pray for this city and pray for these officers,” he said.

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"Please keep these officers in your thoughts and prayers, as well as all our brave first responders responding to the unfolding situation downtown tonight," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson wrote on Facebook.

[READ: Police shot, 7-Eleven burned, other businesses damaged Monday night]

Protests turned violent downtown as the sun went down, following a day of peaceful protests. Protesters looted many downtown businesses and set fire to the 7-Eleven store in Downtown West.

At 9:30 p.m., people on the street smashed the windows of the 7-Eleven on 17th street and began stealing items from inside the store.

At 9:40 p.m., it appeared a man outside the store fired a gun in the air, and shortly after that, a part of the building was set on fire.

[WATCH: 7-Eleven goes up in flames in downtown St. Louis amid looting]

Firefighters were staged nearby, but given the ongoing violence, could not respond to put out the fire. As a result, much of the store burned down.