Local and national civil rights leaders are condemning the shootings of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri.
John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist, says the "disgraceful and cowardly" attack was conducted by outside agitators who were intent on hijacking attention from protests that he says have produced meaningful reforms.
Gaskin says activists "cannot afford these kinds of incidents happening, because that gets us absolutely nowhere."
One officer was shot in his face, the other in his shoulder, early Thursday morning during a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters following the resignation of the city's police chief. Both officers are hospitalized.
A spokesman for the Rev. Al Sharpton says Sharpton is against violence of any kind, especially against police.
St. Louis County's top official says the shooting of two officers in Ferguson shouldn't be a setback for the community's healing process.
County Executive Steve Stenger says he supports residents expressing their First Amendment rights in a nonviolent way, and believes Ferguson residents are concerned about the officers.
He says, "I think everyone with reasonable minds would want to avoid situations like this."
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says a protest outside Ferguson police headquarters appeared to be winding down when the officers were shot just after midnight. He characterized the shooting as an "ambush."
He says both officers "are good guys. I'm proud of them."
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the two officers shot during a protest in Ferguson aren't expected to have long-term injuries.
Belmar says one of the officers was shot in his face, just below his right eye and the bullet lodged behind his ear. The other officer was shot in his right shoulder, with the bullet leaving out his back.
Belmar says the shooting easily could have resulted in two deaths. He cited the two New York City officers who were ambushed in their police cruiser in December.
Belmar said, "we could have buried two police officers next week over this."
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for "healing and reform" after the shooting of two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department.
The Missouri senator released a statement Thursday saying "acts of violence have no place in this process."
Gunfire that erupted after midnight left a 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves with a facial wound and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County with a shoulder wound. Both were rushed to a hospital. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their injuries as serious.
The shootings followed a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.
McCaskill says she hoped for a "full recovery" for the officers and added that she was praying for them and their families.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar is planning a news conference to further address the shooting of two police officers during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department.
A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder.
Belmar said earlier Thursday that the officers were taken to a hospital, where they are conscious, but that both are seriously injured.
He is scheduled to speak again at 9 a.m. at the St. Louis County Police Headquarters.
The shootings happened after midnight as demonstrators gathered after the city's police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report alleging bias in the police department and court.