ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Two St. Louis police officers were shot Wednesday afternoon in north St. Louis County, one of whom is in critical condition, according to the police chief.
St. Louis police said it happened at W. Florissant Avenue and Northwind Estates Drive. That's in the city of Ferguson.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden said one officer in his 20s was shot in the abdomen and was in critical and unstable condition. In a 5 p.m. update, Hayden said the officer's condition had improved as doctors neared the end of his surgery and were in talks to move him to the ICU after the surgery was completed.
"We are encouraged by that," Hayden said in a 5 p.m. press conference. "By no stretch of the imagination is he out of danger, but they wanted us to know that he was doing better now than he was when we bought him in, and I'm thankful for that."
Hayden said the officer has been with the department for three-and-a-half years. A second officer, also in his 20s, was shot in the leg and is in stable condition. He has been with the department for two-and-a-half years.
As of Thursday morning, the two officers remain hospitalized.
According to a press release from the St. Louis County Police Department, which is handling the investigation, officers from the city spotted a car at around 1 p.m. on the 800 block of River Trail Court. The car, a white Toyota 4Runner, was wanted in connection with a Tuesday night homicide.
The officers tried to pull that car over, but the driver of the car sped off. The release said officers followed that car into St. Louis County, where it eventually crashed near the intersection of West Florissant Avenue and Lang Drive.
The people inside the car ran off, and when the officers got out of their car, at least one of the suspects opened fire on them. The officers then returned fire. Two officers were shot, as was one of the suspects.
The two officers were taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where they remained Wednesday evening, according to the press release.
The suspect was also rushed to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The suspect received treatment but was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The suspect has not been identified.
Additional responding officers were able to take two suspects into custody. They are being held at the St. Louis County jail.
The press release said a third St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer involved in the gunfire was a 21-year-old with one-and-a-half years of law enforcement experience. That officer was not injured. A St. Louis County police spokeswoman said the third officer fired shots at the suspect.
Several police vehicles and groups of officers were seen standing outside the Barnes-Jewish Hospital emergency department Wednesday afternoon. Police Chief John Hayden and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones also arrived to the hospital. Hayden held the 3 p.m. press conference outside the emergency department.
“I’m asking for the public to pray for our officer,” Hayden said in the 3 p.m. press conference. “This is a rough time, we just got officers struck by a car the other day, and in fact, one of them is here.”
Police also had the intersection of the shooting scene at W. Florissant Avenue and Northwind Estates Drive taped off Wednesday afternoon. As of 5 p.m., the intersection remained blocked off while officers investigated.
Officers were searching the area around a white Toyota SUV at the intersection. A gun was on the ground next to the vehicle and multiple evidence markers were on the street as well.
The press release from St. Louis County police said a long gun and a pistol were found at the scene of the shooting.
Multiple police sources tell 5 On Your Side the car officers were chasing today was connected to a homicide outside the Royal Palace Nightclub in the 4200 block of Natural Bridge early Wednesday morning. Sources say the homicide victim was one of several men who robbed someone there.
The St. Louis County Police Department is handling the ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call 636-529-8210 and ask to speak to investigators or leave an anonymous tip with CrimeStoppers at 866-371-8477.