By Eric M. Johnson
An 18-year-old black man was shot and killed by police late on Tuesday at a gas station in a St. Louis suburb near where unarmed teen Michael Brown was killed by a white officer in August, police and local media said.
A video feed showed the gas station cordoned off by yellow tape and guarded by police, some in helmets and carrying riot shields, with bystanders shouting at them in a tense standoff.
The shooting of Brown in the summer, and the decision not to prosecute the officer involved, set off demonstrations across the country. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported that some 60 people had gathered at the scene of Tuesday’s incident and that at least three were arrested.
Images and video footage showed a flash, a loud bang and smoke filling an area near the gas pumps, but it was not clear whether they were caused by bystanders or the police. Local broadcaster KSDK reported people hurled rocks and bricks toward police.
Police said the man who was killed had pointed a handgun at an officer who was conducting a “routine business check” and had approached two men outside the gas station after 11 p.m. (0500 GMT) in the suburb of Berkeley.
“Fearing for his life, the Berkeley Officer fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him,” St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said in a statement. The second man fled the scene.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named the dead man as 18-year-old Antonio Martin, citing his mother, who said he was with his girlfriend around the time of the shooting.
“They won’t tell me nothing. His girlfriend told me that the police was messing with him,” the man’s mother, Toni Martin, told a local broadcaster. “When he was trying to get up and run, they start shooting.”
St. Louis County police recovered the deceased’s man’s handgun at the scene. The did not confirm his identity.
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Berkeley neighbors the suburb of Ferguson, where police officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, a killing that fueled criticism of the way police and the criminal justice system treat minority groups.
Protests in Ferguson have taken place for months and spilled over into violence when a grand jury decided not to charge Wilson.
Demonstrations in cities across the country gained in momentum when a New York grand jury decided not to charge police over the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man whom police tackled and put in a chokehold.
Before the latest incident, about 200 people marched in New York on Tuesday, defying Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for protests to be suspended after two police officers were killed in their patrol car on Saturday in an apparent revenge attack.
In Los Angeles, police said they would investigate whether any officers were involved in the singing of a song, at a party organized by a retired policeman, that poked fun at the Ferguson killing.
The lyrics of the song, on a video posted on entertainment news website TMZ, said: “Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin’ with a badass policeman.”