David Carson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch / AP

St. Louis police shoot, kill black man during home search

White officers open fire on black suspect after he allegedly points gun at them, sparking fresh protests against police

An armed black man fleeing from officers at a home in St. Louis was shot and killed Wednesday by police after he pointed a gun at them, the city's police chief said.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the shooting took place when young men ran out the back door of a house where officers were carrying out a search warrant. 

Officers ordered the pair to stop in an alley behind the house. One suspect pointed a gun at officers who then fired four times, killing him, Dotson said.

“Detectives were looking for guns, looking for violent felons, looking for people that have been committing crimes in the neighborhood,” he said.

Police identified the slain suspect as Mansur Ball-Bey, 18. Authorities are still searching for the second suspect.

The police said the officers involved in the shooting, who were unharmed, were white, aged 33 and 29, each with about seven years on the force. They are on administrative leave.

Dotson told journalists that the gun that Ball-Bey reportedly pointed at them was stolen and that four guns total had been recovered at the scene. He said officers also found crack cocaine at the home.

Another man and a woman who were also inside the home were arrested, Dotson said.

Police obtained the search warrant because they believed the home harbored suspects in other crimes, Dotson added, but did not specify what those crimes were.

The killing drew protests, with many of the roughly 150 people who gathered at the scene hurling obscene gestures and expletives at investigators and questioning the police use of deadly force. Some chanted “Black Lives Matter,” a mantra used a year ago after the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

As police removed the yellow tape that cordoned off the scene, protesters converged on the home's front yard. 

"Another youth down by the hands of police," said Dex Dockett, 42, who lives nearby. "What could have been done different to de-escalate rather than escalate? They [police] come in with an us-against-them mentality. You've got to have the right kind of cops to engage in these types of neighborhoods."

Another neighborhood resident, Fred Price, was skeptical about Dotson's account that the suspect pointed a gun at officers before being mortally wounded.

"They provoked the situation," Price, 33, said. "Situations like this make us want to keep the police out of the neighborhood. They're shooting first, then asking questions."

Dotson said at a late Wednesday press conference some protesters threw bricks and glass bottles at officers, who used shields to protect themselves and then used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Nine people were arrested on charges of impeding traffic and resisting arrest, police said.

A car and piles of furniture and other belongings had been set on fire in the streets near protests, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French posted on Twitter that a vacant house was burning.

Wednesday's shooting came on the first anniversary of the police shooting of another black man in St. Louis, Kajieme Powell. Activists were already in the area for a march protesting his shooting.

The shooting also came 10 days after the St. Louis area was inundated with protesters from around the country marking the one-year anniversary of the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.

Brown's death on Aug. 9, 2014 helped spark a nationwide movement against what protesters say is a pattern of police violence against minorities.

Following Brown’s death, protests erupted over police killings of other black men and women across the United States — including in New YorkBaltimore and Ohio. Some of those protests have turned violent.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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