FERGUSON, Mo. (CNN) — An evening of peaceful protests devolved into clashes in Ferguson Monday night as a few protesters hurled bottles and rocks at a heavy police presence, and they responded by firing stun grenades and tear gas. Some arrests were made.
Police in riot gear and gas masks formed a barricade. They used LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) crowd control systems to send out piercing and painful sounds to disperse the crowd.
Police told protesters they had to keep walking. If they stood still, they were warned, they risked arrest for unlawful assembly. Most obliged, but not all.
One protester ripped out a “Do Not Enter” street sign and pointed it toward officers.
Then, things deteriorated rapidly.
Some reported shots being fired. A few Molotov cocktails were also thrown.
Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Then, with guns drawn, police moved in toward the protesters to clear the area.
Officers told reporters it was for “public safety,” and that there had been a gunshot victim. They didn’t elaborate.
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson later told CNN that two people had been taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Their conditions were not known.
“At the end of this, we’re gonna be classed as insurgents,” an upset protester told CNN.
Earlier, rowdy demonstrators were greatly outnumbered by fellow protesters trying to keep the gathering peaceful. Some locked arms and walked through the crowd.
“Get out of street! Don’t fight!” some protesters bellowed on bullhorns.
Police in riot gear formed a barricade, donning gas masks and asking reporters to do the same. Some officers sat with guns pointed atop armored vehicles. But they showed restraint.
Officials temporarily detained a few, including news photographer Scott Olson and longtime activist and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.
“We are not going to let outside provocateurs to come here. We can’t allow this movement to be destroyed,” said Malik Shabazz, national president of Black Lawyers for Justice.
The renewed tensions came after the preliminary results of an autopsy that Brown’s family requested were released, as was a new account of what allegedly happened in the moments immediately before the teenager was killed by a local police officer.
Evidence in the shooting death could be presented to a grand jury as early as Wednesday.
And as the situation in the St. Louis suburb was being watched and talked about across the country, it continued to draw comments from numerous quarters — including the White House.
“We have all seen images of protesters and law enforcement in the streets. It’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. What’s also clear is that a small minority of individuals are not,” said President Barack Obama.
“While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting, or carrying guns, and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos,” he said, in a call for calm.
“Let’s see some understanding” rather than confrontation, and “let’s seek to heal,” the President said.
Brown’s death has sparked nightly protests in the Ferguson, prompting Gov. Jay Nixon to call out the National Guard.
The officer who killed Brown says the teenager rushed at him full speed in the moments before the shooting, according to an account phoned in to a St. Louis radio station and confirmed by a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation.
According to the version on KFTK, phoned in by a woman who identified herself as “Josie,” the altercation on August 9 began after Officer Darren Wilson rolled down his window to tell Brown and a friend to stop walking in the street.
When Wilson tried to get out of his cruiser, Brown first tried to push the officer back into the car, then punched him in the face and grabbed for his gun before breaking free after the gun went off once, the caller said.
Wilson pursued Brown and his friend, ordering them to freeze, according to the account. When they turned around, Brown began taunting Wilson, saying he would not arrest them, then ran at the officer at full speed, the caller said.
Wilson then began shooting. The final shot was to Brown’s forehead, and the teenager fell two or three feet in front of Wilson, said the caller, who identified herself as the officer’s friend.
A source with detailed knowledge of the investigation later told CNN the caller’s account is “accurate,” in that it matches what Wilson has told investigators.
But accounts of exactly what happened when Wilson stopped Brown vary widely.
Witnesses said they saw a scuffle between the officer and Brown at the police car before the young man was shot. Several witnesses said Brown raised his hands and was not attacking the officer.
Piaget Crenshaw said she was sitting in her home when she witnessed the shooting. She captured video of the aftermath, including images of Brown’s body lying in the middle of the street.
Crenshaw said Brown was running away from police and then turned around. She said that was when Brown was shot.
Police provided a different narrative, saying Brown struggled with the officer and reached for his weapon.
A grand jury will hear testimony from witnesses and decide on whether to return an indictment in the case, Ed McGee, spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, said Monday, stressing there is “no time line on this case.”
In addition to that proceeding, the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson this week, to meet with investigators there.
“I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation,” the attorney general said in a statement.
“The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation.”
An autopsy conducted for the family of Brown found no evidence that he struggled with Wilson before his death, according to the pathologist in charge of the examination.
Dr. Michael Baden conducted the autopsy after an official examination by the St. Louis County medical examiner’s office.
The autopsy results are the latest development in the investigation into Brown’s death, which has resulted in nightly, sometimes violent, protests in Ferguson that have prompted Missouri’s governor to declare a curfew and send in the state National Guard.
“Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard … in restoring peace and order to this community,” Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement.
Later, he told reporters the National Guard would have a “limited mission” to protect the command center in Ferguson.
The protests have also gained international attention. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Monday on the events in Ferguson, saying that he “hopes local and federal investigations will shed full light on the killing” of Brown. Ban called on authorities to ensure that people are able to assemble peacefully and urged law enforcement to abide by U.S. and “international standards in dealing with demonstrations.”
Gunfire, tear gas and Molotov cocktails Sunday night marked some of the fiercest clashes yet between police and protesters furious about the death of the unarmed teenager.