A 23-year-old African-American man who barricaded himself in his mother’s house in a St. Louis suburb was shot and killed by police when he rushed at them with a knife in one hand and a Bible in the other, authorities said on Saturday.
The St. Louis County police chief described the encounter as one that left his officers with no choice but to open fire.
The man’s death in the city of Jennings followed a string of police shootings around the United States, many involving African-Americans, that have raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement. One prominent case was in another St. Louis suburb, Ferguson.
A Missouri grand jury’s decision in November to bring no charges against a white officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in Ferguson in August triggered a wave of protests from coast to coast.
Earlier this month, a South Carolina patrolman was charged with murder after being caught on a bystander’s video shooting a black man in the back after a traffic stop.
Unlike those two cases, the latest shooting followed a tense, three-hour standoff in Jennings, which is located between Ferguson and St. Louis.
According to a police statement, a woman told officers her son, Thaddeus McCarroll, had locked her out of her house, was armed with a knife and had mentioned a “black revolution.”
Police said they called on the man, who they could see was armed with knives and a sword, to leave the house and that when he finally did emerge from the home he held a knife in one hand and a Bible in the other.
Police tried to negotiate with McCaroll, telling him to drop the weapon. He did not comply, despite being shot at first with a “non-lethal round.” Instead he charged at the officers, the statement said.
In response, two officers shot him multiple times shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday and he died at the scene, police said.
The St. Louis County Police Department’s crimes against persons unit is investigating the incident, the statement said.