The St. Louis teenager fatally shot by an off-duty officer Wednesday night was a high school student facing trial for a weapons charge, his lawyer told NBC News. Vonderrit D. Myers, 18, had been released on a $10,000 bond following a June 27 incident involving an unlawful use and possession of a gun and resisting arrest after fleeing the scene. Myers pleaded not guilty on both charges and was given a Nov. 17 court date, records show.
Police and Myers' lawyer said the teenager was with his cousins in the city's Shaw neighborhood Wednesday night when they encountered the off-duty cop. The unnamed officer, who was working a side security job at the time, said the three young men began to run when he turned his vehicle around. He pursued them by foot. After a "physical altercation," the suspected gunman shot at the officer at least three times, according to police. The officer, who was unharmed, fired back 17 times — although it's not known how many times he hit the suspect. Myers was reportedly wearing an ankle bracelet — one of the conditions of his bail — when he died.
"They washed his blood away, but they can't wash away what happened yesterday," Jackie Williams, the young man's uncle, said Thursday night. "And my family is deeply sorry, and we're missing him already. We're hurt, and we lost our child, and it means a lot."
Peter Cohen, who represented Myers during his previous court appearance, said the teen had struggled at Gateway High School, a St. Louis magnet school, but was still aiming to graduate. "It's just sad," Cohen said.
Wednesday's shooting occurred about 15 miles from Ferguson, Missouri, where demonstrators began gathering Thursday for a weekend of vigils and marches marking two months since the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, 18. As in that incident, the officer who fired Wednesday night is white and his victim was black. The new shooting heightened an already tense racial atmosphere in St. Louis and sparked overnight protests.
— Samira Puskar, Erik Ortiz and Aaron Mermelstein