Ferguson police officer shot in the arm; Chief says incident not related to protests

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FERGUSON, MO (KPLR) –A Ferguson police officer is recovering Sunday morning after being shot by an apparent burglary suspect.

St. Louis County police are investigating the shooting. The first question Chief Jon Belmar was asked was whether this is tied to the protests. The answer, he says, is no.

The shooting happened a little after 9:00pm Saturday night in the 1000 block of Smith. An officer on routine patrol checked in on Ferguson's new community center, where he spotted two men apparently trying to break in. The officer involved tried to stop the men, and they ran off. At some point during the foot chase, one suspect turned around a fired at the Ferguson officer. He was hit once in the left arm.

Police say the officer returned fire, but there's no indication he hit the other shooter, who ran off into the woods.

After the shooting, with protestors gathered nearby, shouting loudly and apparently skeptical about the police version of events, St. Louis County police insisted this incident had nothing to do with recent violence and protests in Ferguson.

“It didn't happen within the proximity of the protest area,” said Chief Belmar. “This is an area that's fairly secluded, and I wouldn't have any reason to believe right now that it was linked in any way, shape, manner or form to the protest. It certainly doesn't appear that way."

Police say officers from a number of different departments combed the woods in the area looking for the suspects. After about an hour and a half they gave up the search.

The police officer has been released from the hospital.

St. Louis County police are running the investigation of the incident.

The shooting comes seven weeks to the day when Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.