Businesses Burn, Police Cars Torched as Violence ‘Much Worse’ than August

Jesse Bogan et al., St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 25, 2014

The tally of damage mounted Tuesday morning in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson.

St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman said this morning that at least 61 people were arrested. Charges ranged from burglary to trespassing to receiving stolen property.

At least 10 businesses in and around Ferguson were damaged or destroyed by fire.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, speaking at a press conference at 1:30 a.m., said he was grateful nobody was killed but was disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area.

“What I’ve seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that’s truly unfortunate,” he said.

He said that there was basically “nothing left” along West Florissant Avenue between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road. “Frankly, I’m heartbroken about that,” he said.

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said, “We talked about peaceful protest, and that did not happen tonight. We definitely have done something here that’s going to impact our community for a long time . . . . That’s not how we create change.”

Belmar said that officers used tear gas near West Florissant and Chambers Road. A highway patrol lieutenant was hit by a glass bottle. Two St. Louis County Police cars were torched, he said.

Belmar said as far as he knew, police did not fire shots, but there was plenty of gunfire in the area.  He said he personally heard at least 150 shots.

He said he and Johnson drove around earlier and “got lit up,” and he was surprised they were not hit. Commanding officers were hesitant to leave officers at road blockades because of so much gunfire in those particular areas, he said.

They reported one shooting in the 9100 block of Halls Ferry Road and a report of one near the McDonald’s on West Florissant Avenue. The shooting limited the ability of firefighters to safely douse fires at burning businesses.


Shortly after 1 a.m., Governor Jay Nixon issued a press release saying he ordered more Missouri National Guardsmen to Ferguson. “The Guard is providing security at the Ferguson Police Department, which will allow additional law enforcement officers to protect the public,” the statement said.

Shortly after 2 a.m., at least five busloads of National Guard troops pulled up along South Florissant Road in the old town area of Ferguson.

Meanwhile, at least a dozen cars were on fire at an Auto By Credit dealership in Delwood at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. Just north of the dealership, a Conoco service station convenience store was destroyed by fire.


As of 1:25 a.m., area hospitals reported a total of at least 13 injuries, including two with gunshot wounds.


Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said he was contacting elected officials and every contact he had in the governor’s office to try to get the National Guard to respond as multiple businesses burned in the city.

“They’re not here. They’re not responding,” Knowles said. “We’re trying to work every avenue. Right now, we’re just hoping they’ll respond.”


Shortly before midnight, two young men who watched the fires on West Florissant from a parking lot sought to justify the violence to a reporter. Steven Rodriguez, 22, of Ferguson, said, “This violence wasn’t planned. This happened because people are sick and tired of being shot and bullied by the police.”

With him was Kenneth Covington, 24, of north St. Louis, who added, “There have been so many black men killed by police but police are never held accountable for it.”


Ferguson Market was broken into and looted. The market is the store where Michael Brown was caught on video stealing cigars and shoving a store clerk a short time before Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him Aug. 9. The store was looted and vandalized days afterwards.


Along West Florissant just north of 270, in Greystone Plaza, about 20 men with handguns and AR-15 rifles stood around the perimeter of the parking lot, guarding the dozen or so stores.

They estimated that 100 cars had come by throughout the night, seemingly to check the place out, but turned away.


The strip mall had been hit by vandals soon after the shooting in August.


Several businesses north of the police station had front windows busted out.


Witnesses reported an elderly man was run over after two people stole his car on the parking lot Faraci pizzeria on South Florissant.

Jaye Perry, 52, of Ferguson, said she had been talking to the man and he had told her, “Only in America do you see stuff like this.” The man then went back to his car to get a new oxygen tank, which he had been using to help him breathe.

But then two men approached him and took his car, she said. The man held on to his steering wheel and tried to hold on, but was run over as they sped away. He didn’t appear to be seriously hurt, and continued to yell for his oxygen tank. An ambulance took him away.


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