Missouri governor calls in National Guard after night of chaos; 1st autopsy of teen released

Demonstrators carry a picture of Michael Brown as they gather on West Florissant Avenue to protest his shooting-death in Ferguson, Missouri. (EPA/ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ)

After a night of chaos in which police said they used tear gas to disperse crowds after some protesters fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails at police, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon early Monday signed an executive order directing National Guard troops to keep peace in Ferguson.

"Tonight, a day of hope, prayers, and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk.  I join the people of Ferguson, and all Missourians, in strongly condemning this criminal activity," Nixon said in a statement on his official website.

 Police said they faced coordinated attacks on Sunday, including gunfire and Molotov cocktails, during protests, and defended their use of tear gas to try and quell the violence.

Hundreds of protesters fled to safety after authorities fired tear gas and canisters of smoke to disperse them hours ahead of a planned midnight curfew in the tense St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown, 18, was shot to death by a police officer on Aug. 9.

"Molotov cocktails were thrown, there were shootings, looting, vandalism, and other acts of violence that clearly appear not to have been spontaneous," Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told a late night news briefing.

The "coordinated acts" by a few in the crowd were "premeditated criminal acts designed ... to provoke a response," Johnson added.

He said the trouble began after police responded to the shooting of a civilian at around 8.25 p.m., which Johnson said.

Also Sunday night, the New York Times reported that a private autopsy showed that Michael Brown was shot at least 6 times by police.

Citing Dr. Michael M. Baden, former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, the newspaper reported that Brown was shot twice in the head, and that the bullets that hit him did not appear to have been fired from very close range.

The crowd of about 400 appeared to be marching peacefully Sunday but a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol said "aggressors" had advanced on a law enforcement command post.

Police drove into the protest area in armored vehicles and shot smoke canisters at watching media representatives during a protest that had until then appeared to be peaceful.

The St. Louis County police tweeted that Molotov cocktails were being thrown at police and that shots had been fired, urging people to leave the area.

The Los Angeles Times reported that police fired smoke canisters and tear gas at demonstrators and at cars stuck in traffic. Hundreds of people ran from the scene, covering their faces to block the tear gas.

A Ferguson native and journalism student who has been filming the demonstrations accused authorities of intimidation.

"This is once again a peaceful protest," said Etefia Unama, 20, who attends Loyola University in New Orleans. "They're trying to create an atmosphere of intimidation. This is martial law, a police state."

 "The smoke bombs were completely unprovoked," said Anthony Ellis, 45. "It (the protest) was led by kids on bikes. Next you know, they're saying, 'Go home, Go home!'

However, the Missouri Highway Patrol said "aggressors" were trying to infiltrate a law enforcement command post and that armored vehicles were deployed to ensure public safety.

"We ordered them back. We ordered them back again. After several attempts, we utilized the smoke to disperse these individuals," said Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Justin Wheetley said.

The actions took place hours before a midnight curfew imposed for the second night in the tense St. Louis suburb, site of ongoing protests as well as violence and looting since Michael Brown, 18, was shot to death on Aug. 9.

Earlier on Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal autopsy of Brown's body, seeking to assure the family and community there will be a thorough investigation into a death that has sparked days of racially charged protests.