ST. LOUIS - Police in St. Louis said they shot and wounded a 14-year-old boy Sunday morning after he fired a shot at officers investigating a carjacking. The boy was reported in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.
Police Chief Sam Dotson said no officers were injured in the shooting, which took place around 9:25 a.m. CT.
Dotson said officers had been searching in the neighborhood for a car stolen in a carjacking late last month and stopped to talk to a teenager, who ran off, turned through a vacant lot and fired a single shot. Dotson said officers returned fire.
The officers are both white, he said. The boy is African-American.
Witnesses told police they heard the pursuing officers identify themselves as police and order the teen to get down, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. One witness described as nearly 6 feet tall.
Police found a semi-automatic pistol at the scene and were looking for the shell casing in the vacant lot, Dotson said. He said the officers were not wearing body cameras and that there was no dashboard camera recording of the shooting.
St. Louis police officers do not have body cameras, the Post-Dispatch reported, although some higher-ranking officers began using the equipment last year in a pilot program.
After the shooting, an estimated 50 people gathered near the scene, with some yelling that the police were lying about the shooting.
"They need them body cameras," said Cassandra Barton, who did not see the shooting but whose mother lives on the block where it took place. "Then they wouldn't have this problem."
Dotson said he spoke with people in the neighborhood. “In the world that we live in now, people are skeptical," he said. "I have to do everything, and I hope my officers do everything they can, to make sure the community has confidence in the police department.”
He also said that for a 14-year-old to have a gun ”really goes to the conversation about the epidemic of violence that we have in our community.”
He added, "That a 14-year-old has access to a gun or feels the need to have a gun, and certainly when officers approach, running or pointing that gun at officers, it does nobody in the community any good.”
St. Louis Alderman Chris Carter, who said the incident speaks to the need for police body cameras, said, "People are just tired of the police shootings."
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