Ferguson manhunt begins after two officers shot during rally
Police said that two officers who were shot and wounded during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, in the early hours of yesterday had been victims of an "ambush" and vowed to track down those responsible.
A manhunt was focused early on one nearby Ferguson home. News video footage showed tactical officers on top of the house seemingly trying to break through the roof.
"People have been taken in for questioning," police spokesman Sgt Brian Schellman said. "No arrests at this point."
Protesters who gathered outside the city's police headquarters late on Wednesday evening were beginning to disperse when shots rang out and the two officers were hit, one in the shoulder and the other in the face.
They were rushed to hospital but both had been released last night.
The shootings promised once again to inflame tensions in Ferguson that erupted after the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a police officer last August.
That incident, and a decision by a local grand jury not to indict the officer, set off protests around the country and an anguished national debate about policing and racial prejudice in America.
Anger still simmers in parts of the African-American community in Ferguson.
That was reawakened by the release last week of a Department of Justice report asserting that racism had been rife in the city's police department which operated a "toxic" system of essentially apprehending members of the Ferguson's mostly black citizenry for minor midsemeanours as often as possible to boost the city's coffers.
Attorney General Eric Holder denounced the new "heinous assault" as "repugnant" and President Barack Obama also responded.
"Violence against people is unacceptable," said a message on the official White House Twitter feed.
"Our prayers are with the officers in MO [Missouri].
"Path to justice is one all of us must travel together."
The shootings came hours after Ferguson Police chief Thomas Jackson announced he was resigning.
The attack echoed the December killing of two police offices in New York by a lone assailant who was seemingly fixated on avenging police killings of African-Americans.