FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — Ferguson police will not release the name of the officer who shot a teenager in the St. Louis suburb because of threats made to another officer who was falsely accused on social media of being the shooter, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Tuesday.
The department had said Monday that it would release the name, the same day federal civil rights investigators and the FBI opened an inquiry into the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed Saturday.
Witnesses say the teen was unarmed and his hands were in the air demonstrating that. Police have said that Brown attacked the officer in his car and tried take his gun.
The teen’s killing has fueled rising tension in Ferguson and sparked a national debate.
There was chaos on the streets of the town of 21,000 on Monday night. Shots were fired, Jackson told CNN, and police used tear gas to disperse a crowd. And on Sunday, violence and looting broke out among some protesters after a vigil for the teen.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks called Monday for people protesting Brown’s death to do so peacefully.
“We have seen young people giving in to violence and frustration and rage,” he told reporters. “If you want to honor his memory, honor his memory by seeking justice nonviolently.”
College-bound teen sought a better life
Brown was going to defy negative stereotypes, eschewing the street life that plagued many African-American young men by instead going to college, his mother said.
“People may do things and it becomes repetitive in a certain race, but we didn’t. We don’t live like that. Not our family,” his mother, Lesley McSpadden, told CNN.
“We feel like we can do anything and go anywhere. … Just because my son is a 6’4″ black male walking down a city street does not mean he fit the profile for anything other than just walking down the street.”
About 63% of Ferguson residents over age 16 are African-American. But according to racial profiling data from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, 86% of traffic stops involve African-American drivers.
Exactly what led up to Brown’s death is a point of major contention.
One side says the teen was surrendering, his hands in the air to show he was unarmed, when the officer fatally shot him. The slain teenager and a friend were “accused of stealing gum from the store or some sort of cigarettes,” St. Louis Alderman Antonio French said.
“He ran for his life, they shot him and he fell,” witness Piaget Crenshaw told CNN affiliate KTVI. “He put his arms up to let them know he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
But authorities say Brown had attacked the officer in his car and tried to take his gun.
“The genesis of this was a physical confrontation,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. His department has been called in to conduct an independent investigation.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the shooting “deserves a fulsome review” by federal investigators.
“At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right,” he said.
Shot two days before college
McSpadden said her son was supposed to start college Monday.
“He was so excited to be setting an example for his younger siblings,” she said.
But “we can’t even celebrate. We’ve got to plan a funeral.”
Some in Ferguson want the officer who shot Brown identified.
McSpadden chastised the officer who she says cut a promising life short.
“You took my son away from me! You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many!” she shouted into a television reporter’s microphone.
Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., said he just wants justice and “to get this resolved in the right manner.”
“I will be a little calmer,” the father said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever have peace.”
CNN’s Holly Yan, Ashley Fantz and Catherine E. Shoichet wrote in Atlanta; George Howell reported from Missouri. CNN’s Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, Julian Cummings, Don Lemon, Wolf Blitzer, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.