“A Sunday that started with prayers and messages of unity, peace and justice took a very different turn after dark.”
Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson offered that update at about 1:40 Monday morning after law enforcement in Ferguson had been met with Molotov cocktails and gunfire from crowds that were also reported to be looting stores and committing muggings.
Johnson, who is in charge of security in Ferguson, says he had no choice but to elevate the response.
“When we saw violent acts including shootings and throwing of Molotov cocktails and the destruction of businesses,” Johnson told reporters, “we had to act to protect lives and property.”
Johnson said he was in touch with Governor Jay Nixon (D) and Highway Patrol Superintendent Ron Replogle, who were at the Highway Patrol headquarters in Jefferson City, about “additional steps to quiet the violence.” A short time after Johnson spoke with the media, Nixon’s office issued a release saying he had signed an executive order calling on the National Guard to respond to Ferguson.
Johnson and the Governor say they believe attacks on law enforcement and civilians Sunday were coordinated and planned.
Johnson said the acts of violence, “clearly appear not to have been spontaneous, but pre-meditated criminal acts designed to damage property, hurt people and provoke a response.”
Johnson says two or three people were shot Sunday night, not by law enforcement, and seven or eight people were arrested for failure to disperse. He noted that violence broke out shortly before 8:30 Sunday night, more than three-and-a-half hours before the curfew imposed by the National Guard under the authority of Nixon.