Police detain three in Ferguson police shooting ‘ambush’

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Photo by: Jeff Roberson A police officer walks toward the Ferguson Police Department Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Two officers were shot in front of the police department early Thursday as demonstrators gathered after the police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police force and local courts. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Photo by: Jeff Roberson
A police officer walks toward the Ferguson Police Department Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Two officers were shot in front of the police department early Thursday as demonstrators gathered after the police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police force and local courts. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

By Valerie Richardson –
Police brought in for questioning three people Thursday in the shooting of two St. Louis-area officers at a midnight protest rally in Ferguson, an incident the police chief described as an “ambush.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported police led out three people after tactical officers with police dogs surrounded a home Thursday in Ferguson, about four blocks from the site of the shooting at the police department.

Police have not made any arrests, but neighbors said a woman who rents the home was brought out of the house was in handcuffs, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a Thursday press conference that the two injured officers have been released from the hospital after being treated for injuries not considered life-threatening.

“This is really an ambush,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a Thursday press conference. “You are basically defenseless. It is hard to guard against.”

The officers had been working crowd control at a protest rally with two dozen other officers in a line outside the police department when the shots were fired.

“We were very close to what happened in New York. We could’ve buried two police officers overnight,” Chief Belmar said in comments posted Thursday on the department’s Twitter feed, referring to the deadly ambush of two New York City officers in December.

The protest was sparked by the Wednesday resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who stepped down in response to the release of a blistering Justice Department on the Ferguson Police Department.

Chief Belmar said that a 32-year-old officer from the Webster Groves Police Department was shot just under the right eye, with the bullet now lodged underneath his right ear. Police said he is a seven-year veteran of the force.

The second shooting victim, a 41-year-old St. Louis County officer with 14 years on the force, was shot in his right shoulder, but the bullet exited his body through his mid-back. Both officers were treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and released before 10 a.m., police said.

“We’re lucky. By God’s grace we didn’t lose two officers last night,” Chief Belmar said at the press conference.