(Reuters) - Police fatally shot a black man they say pointed a gun at them in St. Louis on Wednesday, drawing angry crowds and recalling the racial tensions sparked by the killing of an unarmed African-American teen in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, just over a year ago.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the shooting took place as officers were issuing a search warrant in a crime-ridden neighborhood, when two young black men ran out the back door of the targeted house.
Police officers ordered the men to stop in the alley behind the house and one suspect pointed a gun at officers who then fired approximately four times, killing him, Dotson said.
Despite the police explanation of events, dozens of people gathered near the scene protesting the police use of deadly force, according to local media.
Police in SWAT gear and an armored vehicle ordered the crowd to disperse and some people were taken into custody, according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Dotson told journalists the gun the suspect pointed at them was stolen. He said officers also recovered crack cocaine at the scene.
“Detectives were looking for guns, looking for violent felons, looking for people that have been committing the crimes in the neighborhood,” he said.
The shooting comes 10 days after the St. Louis area was inundated with protesters from around the country marking the anniversary of the Aug. 9 police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.
Brown’s death last year helped spur a nationwide movement against what protesters say is a pattern of police violence against minorities.
Wednesday’s shooting also came on the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of another black man in St. Louis, Kajieme Powell. Activists were already in the area for a march protesting his shooting.
Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumaker