The owner of a gun store near the Missouri city where an unarmed teenager was killed in a police shooting said his sales have quadrupled amid the looting and vandalism that have followed in and around Ferguson.
“Probably a dozen or two dozen guns to females, single mothers. We’ve sold to black people, white people. We’ve sold to Asians who have businesses on West Florissant," Metro Shooting Supplies owner Steve King told KMOX-TV. “They’re just afraid of what's going on and they’re coming in to purchase either additional firearms or their first firearm.”
Police wearing riot gear stage outside the remains of a burned-out convenience store Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (Image source: AP/Jeff Roberson)
King, whose store in Bridgeton is about 7 miles from Ferguson, told KMOX that nearly all of his customers said they're purchasing guns for defensive purposes — and a wide variety of them.
“They’re buying AR-15s, home-defense shotguns, handguns, personal defense handguns, something for conceal carry,” King said. He said some have even been dipping into their savings in order to arm themselves.
In a radio interview, King related a "touching" story of "an elderly black man" who came into his store on Monday, just hours after violence and looting raged in Ferguson Sunday night, and bought a shotgun and a handgun.
King said the man told him, "`This is embarrassing, all these little thugs running around making us look bad … I've lived here my entire life, I've never had any problems, and now I feel I have to buy a gun to protect myself … I'm not going to lose my home to these people."
King made the comments in an interview on "The McGraw Show" on KTRS-AM:
By contrast, King also owns a store in Belleville, Illinois, about 27 miles from Ferguson, and said gun sales have been normal there.
Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Authorities said the shooting occurred after the officer encountered two people — one of whom was Brown — on the street near an apartment complex in Ferguson.
County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one of the men pushed the officer back into his squad car and a struggle began. Belmar said at least one shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car. The struggle spilled out into the street, where Brown — who was unarmed — was shot multiple times.
A number of angry protests followed the shooting, which grew in size and intensity by Sunday. On Sunday night, the protests gave way to looting and vandalism.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This story has been updated.