ST. LOUIS — St. Louis city police officers shot and killed a man they say brandished a knife at them outside a market Tuesday afternoon.
The shooting was about 12:30 p.m., police said.
Witnesses said the man who was shot had been inside Six Stars Market. He took items from the market and left, followed by an employee, witnesses said.
When the market employee told the man he would have to pay for the items, the man started throwing the items on the street and sidewalk. St. Louis Alderman Dionne Flowers, who works at a nearby beauty shop, witnessed the encounter, according to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. She described the man as acting erratically and was grabbing at his waistband, Dotson said.
“The store owner and the alderwoman said the suspect was armed with a knife, acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street, talking to himself,” said Dotson, who spoke at the scene.
Employees at the market and the beauty shop called 911 and two police officers arrived, police said.
The officers ordered the man to get down, according to Dotson. The man, 23, became more agitated and walked toward them, reaching for his waistband. Witnesses told police the man was yelling “Shoot me, kill me now,” during the encounter.
The officers drew their weapons and ordered the man to stop. He did stop, but then pulled out a knife and came at the officers with it held up high, Dotson said. They ordered him to stop and drop the knife. When he got within two or three feet of the officers, they fired, killing the man.
“This is a lethal range for a knife,” Dotson said.
The officers were not hurt, police said.
While the chief was speaking to news reporters at the scene, an angry crowd had gathered around officers and reporters. “We all understand what is going on in Ferguson, but every police officer has the right to defend himself,” Dotson said.
The chief said he wanted to be swift in releasing the details about the shooting to the public. “I want this message to be out as quickly and truthfully as possible,” he said.
The officers involved were put on administrative duty pending an investigation.