Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Store Vandalized, Fire Set at Another in Ferguson
Demonstrations flared again in Ferguson on Sept. 23, 2014.
By Stephen Deere 314-340-8116104

FERGUSON • Windows were smashed at one shop and a fire was believed set at another business during protests in Ferguson Tuesday night.

At least three people were arrested early Wednesday morning as police moved in to break up protesters.

Early Wednesday, after police had blocked off West Florissant Avenue and the entrance to the Canfield Green apartments, shots were heard in the area. No one was reported hit.

Windows were smashed early in the evening at Beauty Town at West Florissant Avenue and Canfield Drive, and protesters gathered shortly afterward, reaching as many as 200 about 10:30 p.m.

Police officials, including Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, went to the scene. The crowd eventually dwindled to about 50 to 75 shortly before midnight. A line of about a dozen police faced the remaining protesters.

Juan Santos, manager of Beauty Town, said this was the third time the store has been broken into since the fatal Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer touched off protests and looting.

Santos said the windows had been replaced just a week ago at a cost of $1,300. He got the boards from the basement and put them back on the newly smashed windows, saying he "will probably leave them up for a while now."

Some Ferguson police in the area were wearing their new body cameras, but some were not. When asked, some said they had been on duty with their cameras on for as much as 20 hours and the batteries had died.

The Ferguson Fire Department received a call about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday about a small fire outside the Whistle Stop and Depot Museum custard shop on Carson Road near South Florissant Road. Fire Capt. Jeremy Corcoran said Ferguson police used a garden hose attached to the building to put out the flames before the firefighters arrived. Firefighters took over to make sure the blaze was out.

Corcoran said the fire originated at an outside corner of the building. He said there was a strong smell of gasoline, and based on that and where the fire was located, he suspects it was intentionally set. The St. Louis County bomb and arson squad has been called to investigate, he said.

Police began clearing the street about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday along West Florissant, making at least three arrests. Some protesters threw bottles at police as they were being moved north on West Florissant toward Canfield Drive.

The entrance to the Canfield Green apartments was blocked off, and about 12:50 a.m. police begin leaving the scene, including Johnson, Dotson and Belmar.

At that time, someone fired about six shots from a building roughly 150 yards from the entrance to the apartments. No one was hit, and police did not go into the cordoned-off area to pursue the shooter.

With the protesters moved away, shortly before 1 a.m. police begin reopening West Florissant Avenue where it had been blocked at Canfield Drive.

Robert Cohen of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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