Margaret Eby
March 12, 2015 4:34 pm

Ferguson, Missouri, the town that became the center of a national crisis after last summer’s shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, is reeling tonight after two officers were shot early Thursday morning.

The violent act came about as tensions rose in the area over the past several days. Last week, the city’s Justice Department released a report that exposed deeply entrenched racism in the police department. On Wednesday, in the wake of the damning revelations from the report, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson announced his resignation. And on Thursday, after a protest in front of the police station in the early morning, two police officers were shot.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said in a press conference that a 32-year-officer was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer shot in the shoulder. Both sustained serious injuries but were released from the hospital by Thursday evening.

The Associated Press reports the shots were believed to have been fired from the street across from the police department, just hours after Jackson’s resignation. Officers had been lined up outside the building in the wake of a small demonstration.

“We’re lucky by God’s grace we didn’t lose two officers last night,” Belmar told press.

Several people were being questioned about the incident and a SWAT team surrounded a home near the shooting site by mid-day Thursday, reports the AP.

President Obama spoke out through the White House Twitter account on the incident:. “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together,” he wrote.

As tensions ran high, Attorney General Eric Holder had strong words to say about the violent act.

“This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson,” Holder said on Thursday. “This was a damn punk who was trying to sow discord in an area that’s trying to get its act together and trying to bring together a community that has been fractured for too long.”

Perhaps the most powerful response to the incident came from Michael Brown’s own family who condemned the shootings in no uncertain terms. “We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement,” they said in a statement. “We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged through this nation to confront police brutality.”

Their emphasis on a peaceful movement for change is so important. No lives should be threatened or harmed as Americans continue to call for an end to racial injustice. Violence is never the answer. We hope everyone stays safe tonight.

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