Ferguson Shooter: Rush to Judgment?

Why is no one asking whether the Ferguson shooter might be a lone wolf terrorist?

In November, 2014, ISIS supporters called for using Ferguson as an excuse for lone wolf attacks:

In particular, Al Nusra Al Maqdisiyya, a prominent group of pro-ISIS activists on social media, wrote on its Twitter account: "O lone mujahid, you must use the breakdown of security in #Ferguson to increase the burning in America. They are squabbling over worldly [matters], so you send them to hell! #ISIS.”


Another said:

"O supporters of the Islamic State in America, what is happening in #Ferguson is a valuable opportunity that will not return. Rise up and engage them with themselves, away from the mujahideen. Spill their blood in the roads and in the neighborhoods."

More from November: the Washington Post and Memri. Of course, it would be hard to track the tweeters now, since Twitter has insisted on closing so many accounts.

Last month an ISIS sympathizer pleaded guilty in Seattle to threatening Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Just a caution against rushing to judgment. The shooter could be anyone, from a protester to a terrorist sympathizer to a looney wolf who got carried away by watching "American Sniper."

< NZ Court Orders Release of Some Kim Dotcom Funds | Carjack Victim Testifies in Tsarnaev Trial >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    It doesn't seem likely. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jack203 on Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 10:19:07 PM EST
    that it was Islamic terrorism or anti-government rightwinger.  But yes rushing to judgement can often make you look foolish.

    I wouldn't bet the mortgage, but from what I've read so far it's looking like the shots belonged to an individual related to the very tense and rowdy protest that night.

    I would put my money on a white (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 10:24:28 PM EST
    separatist or someone with something against the cops unrelated to the racial tensions there.

    "Related to"? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Yman on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 08:01:56 AM EST
    It happened at the protest, but apart from that, what evidence is there that shooter was an individual "related to the protest"?

    If there was a time for someone "related (none / 0) (#9)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 08:07:48 AM EST
    to the protests" to start shooting at the cops, it would've been last year, at the height of said protests, instead of now.

    shooting (none / 0) (#3)
    by Uncle Chip on Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 10:55:48 PM EST
    The shots were apparently fired from a handgun -- they have the shell casings.

    A handgun from a distance of 125 yards -- it's hard to believe that he hit anything that he was aiming at from that distance.

    Also the shots were fired after the night of protest late in the evening when protesters and police were just wrapping things up and heading home for the night.

    It thus could have come from someone who had been hoping for a violent night but went away mad that the protest had remained relatively peaceful and was closing down without incident to his dismay.

    They have the shell casings -- they'll get him.

    On the other thread about the shooting (none / 0) (#4)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:27:51 AM EST
    I linked to an eHow page about shooting accurately at long distances using an ordinary handgun.  If it was a handgun he or she was probably practicing for a while before deciding to shoot this cops.

    Everyone is making quite an assumption (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Peter G on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 11:17:27 AM EST
    considering that it was a handgun and fired from 125 yards away, that the shooter was aiming at the police, just because that's who s/he happened to hit. It could have been someone trying to terrorize or kill demonstrators, but because of the distance, by an awful irony, accidentally hit two police instead.

    I'm surprised... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 11:21:37 AM EST
    stray bullets hasn't been discussed much as a possibility...seems plausible to me considering the distance and the use of a handgun.

    One stray bullet (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 11:36:55 AM EST
    would be plausible, but two stray bullets missing their mark and hitting the two men in question is pretty unlikely.

    Here's my comment from yesterday about long-range shooting wth a handgun.


    I think it is still an assumption (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:19:24 PM EST
    that it was a handgun.

    Take it up with Chief Belmar (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:47:56 PM EST

    "We're lucky by God's grace we didn't lose two officers last night," Chief Belmar said at a midmorning news conference. It was clear that the police were the targets, he said.

    Based on the sound of the shots and the officers' wounds, he said, the weapon was a handgun, not a rifle.



    What a ridiculous comment. (none / 0) (#18)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:54:48 PM EST
    We do not know at this time whether the gun was a handgun or a rifle, Belmar is guessing/assuming it was a handgun based on the "sounds of the shots and the officer's wounds."

    It very well may in fact be a handgun, but at this time we simply do not know.


    Yeah, because what would an experienced (none / 0) (#20)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:05:23 PM EST
    police officer know about ballistics?

    Also: (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:26:08 PM EST

    Many people have noticed that rifle and handgun bullets are quite different and wondered why. Handgun bullets tend to be short and fat, while rifle bullets are (relatively) long and thin. For example, #M855A1 is the current 5.56mm U.S. military rifle round and it uses a 62 grain weight, .224" diameter bullet. The standard U.S. #M882 9x19mm handgun cartridge uses a 112 grain, .355" diameter bullet. The handgun bullet is 1.8 times heavier and the diameter is 1.6 times greater than the rifle bullet.


    Any questions?


    And could also account for the relative lack of serious injury.

    But you just keep up with yer googling, I'm sure you can find others like you who cannot, or will not, distinguish between facts and assumptions.


    I'm sorry, but they did find the shell casings (none / 0) (#24)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:59:06 PM EST
    and since rifles and handguns would mark the ejected casings differently..........

    When the firing pin strikes the cartridge case, a characteristic indentation is caused that can be used to link cartridges to specific firearms, similar to the comparison of rifling marks (discussed below). Other markings that should be looked for include ejector, extractor and breech face marks. Firearms often have different firing pin, extractor and ejector designs, therefore the examination and comparison of marks produced by these implements can aid in establishing the firearm used. It should be noted that it is possible for cartridge cases to be reloaded with a new bullet and fresh propellant and primer and reused, in which case the cartridge may bear numerous additional markings. Furthermore, cartridge cases recovered from the shooting scene should be examined for fingerprints and similar forensic evidence.

    I believe that's game, set and match.  Thanks for playing.


    Take it up with Chief Belmar. (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 02:08:56 PM EST
    St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar reported officers recovered some shell casings not far from the shooting scene at the Ferguson Police Department.

    "We feel like it was a pistol or a handgun," Belmar said, but was unsure if the shell casings would be linked to the shooting of the two officers.

    Of course he's going to be uncertain (none / 0) (#27)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:03:40 PM EST
    as the forensics are needed to verify things, but hey, what would he know, with a degree in criminology and almost 30 years of experience compared to you?

    Chief Belmar has served the agency since 1986. The St. Louis County Police Department serves a population of over one million and a geographical area of more than 500 square miles. Current agency strength is nearly 1,100 and it has a budget of more than $113 million.

    Are you being intentionally obtuse? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:12:20 PM EST
    I hope so for your sake.

    You prove my point over and over. You admit that Belmar is "uncertain."

    iow, he is not stating as fact that it was a handgun, he is assuming it was a handgun.

    I'm done, you've wasted enough of my time.


    Since he's on the scene or is (none / 0) (#29)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:30:11 PM EST
    in direct communication with the people who were doing their job at the crime scene, I will defer to his judgement, even if it's not certain, over somebody who only knows what they read online and has no little or no experience in the area of the forensics of firearms.  It could well be that visual examination of the shell casings would be enough to make a preliminary determination, and you would need microscopic examination for the evidence to be usable in a criminal trial, of course.

    The Point Is/Was... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 04:48:31 PM EST
    ...it's not conclusive.  That a police chief's opinion is not the same as a forensic expert conclusions.

    I grew up in a small town same size as Ferguson.  My close friend's dad was the chief of police.  The police in my town chased speeders, busted undeage drinkers, wrote jaywalking tickets.  The only person I remember getting shot was by a cop who did it by accident, the cop, another friend's dad.

    Small town cops do not deal with shootings normally.  To assume he is some sort of bullet casing expert is a stretch.  Not saying he doesn't know, just that it might be best to wait for the expert opinion.

    You have been here, like many, stating and implying the Ferguson cops don't know what they are doing, the department is in chaos, or they should be fired, but today you are pretty much stating the newly appointed chief's judgement is as good as gold.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    But here he is right after it happened:

    "Now this evening, the only shots that we are aware of are the shots that were taken from across the street."

    "In other words, these police officers were standing there, and they were shot just because they were police officers. We're conducting an investigation right now, and I'll have more on that later on."

    I didn't say he was an expert (none / 0) (#31)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:10:36 PM EST
    But he does have a degree in Criminology, and if he were sure of his conclusion it would still be good strategy in general to day he was uncertain with the perp still out there,

    BTW, if you had really read my comment and checked my link, you'd see that he worked for the St. Louis County PD (which, in all fairness, is a weird concept because it's usually a sheriff), and that he's the Captain of that entity, and not for the much smaller jurisdiction of Ferguson.

    Chief Belmar began his career in the Affton Southwest Precinct in 1986 as a patrolman. He also served in the South County Precinct and the Tactical Operations Unit before his promotion to Sergeant in 1995. As a Sergeant he served in the West County Precinct as a watch supervisor until selected to run the Department's Arson and Explosives Unit in 1996. In 1998 he was promoted to Lieutenant and remained within the Division of Criminal Investigation as the commander of the Bureau of Crimes Against Persons. He remained in that position until his promotion to Captain in 2004 at which time he was assigned as the Commander of the Affton Southwest Precinct. He was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel in July 2013 and assigned the position of Commanding Officer of the Division of Special Operations.

    6 years in CID as head of the BCAP.  He's clearly not Bobby Goren, but I would hazard a guess that he's a bit more experienced than your friends' father.


    St. Louis County (none / 0) (#33)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 07:16:20 PM EST
    is a bit different from other jurisdictions.
    They have a county Police Department (link).
    They do have a Sheriff's Office, but they are mostly responsible for serving civil processes, like evictions and such, and serving as court bailiffs.

    Well, although that is possible, (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:31:49 PM EST
    the area the police believe the shots were fired from is significantly elevated above the police station, and the demonstrators were in between the police and the shooter, so the trajectory of the rounds was over the heads of the demonstrators, so it seems more likely that the shooter was aiming for the cops.

    On CNN a law enforcement guy (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 01:43:13 AM EST
    said if it had been a rifle, the power would have been so great at that distance, they wouldn't have survived. (I was listening on the car radio and didn't see who it was.)

    someone mentioned (none / 0) (#10)
    by CST on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 09:56:37 AM EST
    in another thread that the cops were lined up in a row at the time of the shooting so they might have had a larger target.

    dismissed as a typo, that said the distance was 125 feet, not yards. fwiw.

    That had to be a typo (none / 0) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:50:18 PM EST
    If you look at place (across 2 streets) where the police say they saw the flashes of gun fire, it is definitely a lot farther than 125 feet.

    Probably so. (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 12:55:29 PM EST
    I think this PD's credibility on the subject (none / 0) (#25)
    by ruffian on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 02:03:10 PM EST
    of distances has already been established.

    seems they were a little (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by MO Blue on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 11:16:58 PM EST
    off on the location of the shooter when the shots were fired as well.

    But no PD anywhere has any credibility. (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 05:59:56 PM EST

    Yeah, I'm not sure... (none / 0) (#6)
    by unitron on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:15:40 AM EST
    ...that "sharpshooter" is quite the word to use here.

    you may be right (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 03:52:10 AM EST
    I really don't know, I was assuming if he hit from that far away he had some kind of scope. Since I don't know, I just changed "sharpshooter" to "shooter" in the title. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Until we know who... (none / 0) (#34)
    by unitron on Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 08:49:14 PM EST
    ...did the shooting with what from how far away and why, I'm reserving judgement on their accuracy.

    from Chris King at the St Louis American (none / 0) (#35)
    by Palli on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 12:37:08 AM EST
    "In a question-and-answer session with media at St. Louis County Police headquarters on Friday, March 13, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar walked back most of the major claims of fact he made the day before regarding the shootings of two police officers at Ferguson Police Department late on March 11."
    Chief Belmar said the following:
    -Shots from 150 yards away
    -Would not discuss shell casings
    -Ignored King's question about type of gun
    -Could not rule out the protestors might have been targets
    -Didn't think it was a coincident shots were fired near end of protest
    -No mention of "re-adopting" old command tactics he suggested the day after the shooting
    -No arrest is imminent.tinyurl
    No one should forget that the officers present were not from the Ferguson PD, but rather an assortment of officers from up to 10 small city PDs in the region.
    St Louis Co. PD officers were neither in command or present. And, in fact, there was no Ferguson Police Chief in charge, as Chief Jackson had been terminated (with $100,000 severance + full benefits for a year) at 4pm and an Interim Chief not yet awarded.
    After the shots there was a lapse of 11 minutes before officers went to the Tiffen Street hill where the shots were fired.


    2 shooters (none / 0) (#36)
    by Uncle Chip on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 07:10:17 AM EST
    There was one more thing from the Chief's press conference: They may be looking for two shooters.

    I find it very revealing (none / 0) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 11:56:50 AM EST
    that the conversation here is mostly about the "technical" issues rather than the "why."

    If it was radical islamists inspired "lone wolf" shooter(s)then the subject is rich in our lack of response to ISIS and radicalism in general.

    If it was a right wing shooter then the subject is rich in our lack of societal lack of suppression of racism and the KKK in general... Oh, wait. We have been doing quite a bit of that for quite a while.

    If it was a person inspired by the media coverage and the incorrect "hands up don't shoot" message poured out by the media, sports stars and various politicians such as the Rev. Sharpton and the mayor of NYC, then we have the first shots of "something" akin to the 60's.

    Which ever it was the Ferguson PD were on patrol the night after the shooting.

    I have to wonder if the shooters, and those who encouraged them and those who encouraged and support their actions, would be happy if the police just left and Ferguson was turned into a "No Go Zone."

    Success is often defined as getting what you want. But happiness is wanting what you get.

    why (none / 0) (#38)
    by Uncle Chip on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 12:25:19 PM EST
    the conversation here is mostly about the "technical" issues rather than the "why."

    That's because the technical issues of "who, what, when, where, how" can all be solved with good investigative work and luck.

    However the "why" issue will always be elusive and beyond certainty as it resides cloaked within the deep recesses of the human psyche.


    I think it is because (none / 0) (#39)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 10:13:55 PM EST
    none on the Left wants to face the truth.

    Face (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Uncle Chip on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 07:18:46 AM EST
    none on the Left wants to face the truth.

    None of the Right want to face the truth either.

    That's why they fought so hard against having a trial where the truth would come out.

    You have to find the truth before you can face it.


    "The truth" - heh (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Yman on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 11:04:12 AM EST
    The truth is based on facts, not some wingnuts fantasies.

    I'm on the Left, and (none / 0) (#40)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sat Mar 14, 2015 at 11:49:36 PM EST
    I think it was a white supremacist or other RW nut job.

    And what suppression of white supremacists/KKK are you talking about?  Storefront dot com is still around, and you can go into any major news site and see racist commentary or the recent fraternity at the University of Oklahoma that had a racist chant that unfortunately for them was caught on video.

    When you come out of your dream world, perhaps you'll have the courage to face the truth, and you can end your pretense of being some truth-teller like a two-bit Paul Harvey broadcasting out of a 5,000 radio station in Lesser Gumdrop, MS.


    "I think it was a white supremacist (none / 0) (#48)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 04:03:41 PM EST
    or other RW nut job."

    I think we now know who the actual nut job is.


    The one who thought a rifle was used? (none / 0) (#49)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 04:58:45 PM EST

    And this is what I wrote:

    I would put my money on a white (none / 0) (#2) by Mordiggian 88 on Thu Mar 12, 2015 at 10:24:28 PM EST separatist or someone with something against the cops unrelated to the racial tensions there.

    Now, if isn't related to the cops, then I'm completely wrong, and you'll no doubt remind the rest of us when the time comes. 😏


    Grasping at straws, good luck! (none / 0) (#51)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 06:14:37 PM EST
    Well, since my comment is (none / 0) (#52)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 06:46:39 PM EST
    available on this thread, your ability to accurately quote me seems not to be something that is within your powers.

    the news conf. at 2:30 to announce (none / 0) (#43)
    by Palli on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 01:20:17 PM EST
    At 2:30 today, two of the most unreliable public servants-County Police Chief Belmar and County Prosecutor McCullouh- in St Louis County will announce the apprehension and charges against their suspect.

    It might be a suspect identification. Railroading is rampant in the region.

    ABC News reports (none / 0) (#44)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 02:21:10 PM EST

    an arrest and the seizure of a handgun matching the shell casing they found, although it is unclear if shooting the police was intentional, as the suspect was involved in a dispute just prior to the shootings.

    Forensics will determine if the casings were fired from the gun they found, so the investigation is still ongoing.


    The Only Railroading in the Region (none / 0) (#45)
    by RickyJim on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 02:54:33 PM EST
    that I know about was the attempt to frame Darren Wilson for murder.  It is too bad that some conspiracy nuts are allowed on this forum.

    Some people (none / 0) (#46)
    by FlJoe on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 03:15:51 PM EST
    see a railroad, some people see a whitewash. I view the DOJ report on the Ferguson LE operations and I see injustice. What do you see ?

    Investigating someone ... (none / 0) (#50)
    by Yman on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 05:22:27 PM EST
    ... is not "attempting to frame the" them, although that theory does put the irony in your second sentence.

    A 20 year old (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 03:19:56 PM EST

    Doesn't appear to be a white supremicist.