As police continued to search for a gunman who shot two police officers during a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, this week, a police officer who lives in the St. Louis suburb said he has no question where the blame lies.
"This last event was not the protesters,” Robert Howard, a police officer who lives in Ferguson and works in nearby Hillsdale, told NBC News days after the two officers were shot. "This was another act of an opportunist."
A St. Louis County police officer was shot in the shoulder and a police officer from Webster Groves was shot in the face at around midnight Wednesday night as a protest against racially biased policing near Ferguson police headquarters was beginning to wind down. They were released from the hospital and are expected to make a full recovery.
Howard, who was called to Ferguson to help deal with protests that erupted after the death of Michael Brown in August, said the biggest help to police in deterring violence is likely the protesters themselves.
"You can bet that the positive individuals out there standing are going to want to eliminate the negative individuals," he said. "They don’t want anybody in their circle causing problems when they’re trying to fix problems."
On Thursday, clergy held a candlelight vigil near the Ferguson police building and prayed for the officers who were shot and also for the protesters and nation as a whole. Other demonstrators marched to the police department, near the scene where gunfire rang out less than 24 hours before. It was peaceful, and there were no arrests.
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