Gunshots at protest outside Ferguson police department

Two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday as protesters gathered following the resignation of the city’s embattled police chief.

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FERGUSON, MISSOURI // Two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department early Thursday as protesters gathered following the resignation of the city’s embattled police chief.

The shots were fired as what had earlier been a crowd of about 150 people had begun to dwindle, the St Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Some protesters fell to the ground and others ran.

A huge police presence, including officers in riot gear, later surrounded the department.

Ferguson Lt Col Al Eickhoff said that he did not think either officer was from his department. Lt Col Eickhoff said he did not know the extent of the officers’ injuries.

Representatives from the St Louis County Police Department and Ferguson Police Department could not immediately be reached.

The Highway Patrol said early Thursday that troopers were headed to the scene but they could not provide any details.

TV station KSDK reported the officers were taken to a local hospital.

Thomas Jackson was the sixth employee to resign or be fired after a Justice Department report cleared white former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson last summer.

A separate Justice Department report found a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias in the city police department.

Mr Jackson’s resignation will come into effect on March 19, at which point Lt Col Eickhoff will become acting chief while the city searches for a replacement.

Jackson had previously resisted calls by protesters and some of Missouri’s top elected leaders to step down over his handling of Brown’s shooting and the weeks of sometimes-violent protests that followed. He was widely criticised from the outset, both for an aggressive police response to protesters and for his agency’s erratic and infrequent releases of key information.

* Associated Press