(CNN) — An off-duty St. Louis, Missouri, police officer shot and killed a man Wednesday, prompting angry reaction from residents even though police say the man fired first.
The death comes on the heels of the Michael Brown shooting two months ago in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, and just ahead of “A Weekend of Resistance” in St. Louis where activists will push for movement in the investigation into that case.
Like Brown, the man who was killed in Wednesday’s shooting was black. The officer in both incidents are white, police said.
The difference: Brown was unarmed. In Wednesday’s incident, the man had a gun, said police spokeswoman Leah Freeman said.
Tensions are already high in the community and it’s uncertain how the latest shooting will impact its mood.
“At the scene of yet another young man’s death,” tweeted St. Louis Alderman Antonio French. “This happens too often in our city. It’s a crisis that we should all be concerned about.”
An animated crowd quickly gathered late Wednesday near the site close to the Missouri Botanical Garden, chanting slogans as St. Louis police officers stood by.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, these killers cops have got to go,” and “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?”
The confrontations with police were intense and profanity laced
“That was somebody’s baby,” screamed one man, referring to the man who was killed.
“Think about your own child,” pleaded another person in the crowd.
As the rage grew, a car that was driving through the crowd had its back window broken.
A short time later, a series of gunshots could be heard. It wasn’t clear where they came from.
Started with a pedestrian check
The officer was working a second job for a security company, one that was approved by his department, Freeman said.
He had on his police uniform.
When he tried to make a “pedestrian check,” the man ran, Freeman said. She did not elaborate on what the check would have entailed.
When the officer ran after him, the man turned and fired, Freeman said.
“Fearing for his safety, the officer returned fire striking the suspect, fatally wounding him,” she said.
The 32-year-old officer was not hurt. Police recovered a gun from the scene.
The man who died was in his early 20s.
‘Weekend of resistance’
In August, Brown, an African-American, was shot to death by a white police officer in Ferguson. The death of the unarmed 18-year-old fueled protests and sparked a nationwide debate on police use of force.
Protesters are planing a series of demonstrations, rallies and events in Ferguson and St. Louis this weekend to call for an end to racial profiling and what they call police violence.
This weekend’s protests start with a rally and outside the office of the prosecutor investigating the Brown shooting.
Demonstrators will call for Bob McCulloch to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to be appointed.
Additional marches and demonstrations will mark the weekend, along with “civil disobedience actions around the St. Louis region,” according to a statement from organizers that also says thousands of people from across the country are expected.