Washington: A police officer shot dead an armed black teenager in Berkeley, Missouri, near the town of Ferguson which was the scene of violent protests by African-Americans in recent months following a similar incident, a media report said Wednesday.
According to police, the teenager was armed and pointed his gun at the officer when he drew closer to the victim and his companion during a routine patrol stop at a gas station in the outskirts of Berkley.
"Fearing for his life, the Berkeley officer fired several shots, striking the subject, fatally wounding him," St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said in a statement released on Twitter.
Berkeley is located near Ferguson, where in August a white officer killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, leading to widespread protests around the country against methods employed by the police and perceived racism in the department.
The St. Louis police department is carrying out an investigation into the incident, according to Schellman who added that they have recovered a firearm from the body at the scene of the shooting.
The spokesperson said that they could not provide the identity of the dead teenager, however, several media outlets have identified him as Antonio Martin, aged 18.
Media reported that a woman at the scene, Toni Martin, said he was her son, 18-year-old Antonio Martin.
A statement from St Louis County police spokesman Sgt Brian Schellman said a Berkeley police officer was conducting a routine business check at a gas station around 11:15 pm (local time) yesterday when he saw two men and approached them.
One of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer, Schellman said. The officer fired several shots, striking and fatally wounding the man.
The second man fled, and the dead man's handgun has been recovered, according to Schellman.
The St Louis County Police Department is handling the investigation, and no further details about the incident were immediately available.
Toni Martin told the newspaper that her son was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting.
The protesters who gathered early today milled around the gas pumps at the station, some taunting and yelling at police officers.
Some had strands of yellow police-line tape draped around their neck, with others using it as a headband.
Authorities from multiple agencies, some in riot gear, stood among the protesters.
Across the street, another gas station's glass doors were shattered, and police were standing outside the door, turning
Orlando Brown, 36, of nearby St Charles was among the protesters. He said he didn't have all the details about the shooting but said he wondered if it was a case of police aggression. "I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night," he said. "But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? ... It's not a racial issue, or black or white. It's wrong or right."
Brown said he was pepper-sprayed during the protest as police tried to separate him from a friend whose hand he was holding. He said his friend was arrested for failing to disperse.
Neither Schellman nor Berkeley police could immediately confirm that pepper spray was used or that arrests were made.
Photos from the scene showed authorities scuffling with at least a few protesters.