Police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets late Sunday, a week after demonstrations against the fatal police shooting of a black Missouri teenager, Michael Brown, first filled this St. Louis suburb with angry crowds.
The latest confrontation, which prompted the governor to call out the National Guard and the Ferguson-Florissant School District to close schools on Monday, unfolded hours after Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on Brown.
Also on Sunday, a preliminary private autopsy found that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, according to The New York Times.
As night fell in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police pushed them back by repeatedly firing tear gas, and the streets were empty well before the curfew took effect at midnight.
Authorities said they were responding to reports of gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails.
"Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of response," said Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is command in Ferguson.
At least two people were wounded in shootings, he said.
The "extraordinary circumstances" surrounding the death of 18-year-old Brown and a request by his family members prompted the Justice Department's decision to conduct a third autopsy, agency spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement.
The examination was to take place as soon as possible, he said.
The results of a state-performed autopsy would be taken into account along with the federal examination in the Justice Department investigation, Fallon said.
Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, told The New York Times that one of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull, suggesting that his head was bent forward when the shot struck him — a fatal injury.
Brown was also shot four times in the right arm, and all the bullets were fired into his front, Baden said.
The Justice Department had already deepened its civil rights investigation into the shooting. A day earlier, officials said 40 FBI agents were going door to door gathering information in the Ferguson neighborhood where Brown, who was unarmed, was shot to death Aug. 9.
In Ferguson, Sunday's clashes erupted three hours before the midnight curfew imposed by Gov. Jay Nixon. Early on Monday, he ordered the National Guard to "help restore peace and order."
Officers in riot gear ordered all the protesters to disperse. Many of the marchers retreated, but a group of about 100 stood defiantly about two blocks away until getting hit by another volley of tear gas.
Protesters laid a line of cinder blocks across the street near the QuikTrip convenience store that was burned down last week. It was an apparent attempt to block police vehicles, but the vehicles easily plowed through. Someone set a nearby trash bin on fire, and the crackle of gunfire could be heard from several blocks away.
Within two hours, most people had been cleared off West Florissant Avenue, one of the community's main thoroughfares. The streets remained quiet as the curfew began. It was to remain in effect until 5 a.m.
The crowd of about 400 appeared to be marching peacefully on Sunday, but a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol said "aggressors" were trying to infiltrate a law enforcement command post and that armored vehicles were deployed to ensure public safety.
"We ordered them back. We ordered them back again. After several attempts, we utilized the smoke to disperse these individuals," said Justin Wheetley of the highway patrol.
"The smoke bombs were completely unprovoked," said Anthony Ellis, 45. "It [the protest] was led by kids on bikes. Next you know, they're saying, 'Go home, go home!'"
School officials said that because of continuing unrest in some areas of Ferguson, all schools in the district will be closed Monday "due to concerns we have about children walking to school or waiting for buses on streets impacted by this activity."
Officials plan to decide day by day whether to extend the curfew, first imposed Saturday night by Nixon in an effort to quell protests and looting, Wheetley said.
The first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson ended early Sunday morning with tear gas and seven arrests after police dressed in riot gear and driving armored vehicles dispersed defiant protesters who refused to abandon rallies in the St. Louis suburb.
Later on Sunday, Nixon appeared to lay the blame of renewed violence over the weekend on local police, who on Friday released a police report and video footage linking Brown to an alleged robbery. But police have said the officer who shot Brown had no idea he was a robbery suspect.
Nixon slammed the decision to release the video. "I think it had an incendiary effect," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation," adding police "clearly are attempting to besmirch a victim of a shooting."
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said Sunday that protesters violating the midnight curfew weren't the cause of escalated police action but that there were reports of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armored vehicles approached the crowd of protesters.
At a Sunday afternoon rally, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he wants Congress to stop programs that provide military-style weaponry to police departments.
Though looting, vandalism and clashes with police have occurred during previous rallies, many protesters assert that out-of-town activists — not Ferguson residents — are to blame.
Rallies have been ongoing since Brown was shot and killed under questionable circumstances by six-year police veteran Darren Wilson, who is white.
The Ferguson Police Department waited six days before revealing Wilson’s identity, citing security concerns for the delay. Police also disclosed documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store before he was killed.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, however, said Wilson did not know Brown was a suspect in the robbery at the time of the shooting, and witnesses said Brown's hands were in the air when Wilson shot him. Police contend he had reached for Wilson's gun.
Brown’s family and supporters have railed against the robbery allegations as character assassination.