Ferguson police said that about six shots were heard as 300 people made their way to a church on the outskirts of Ferguson. Reuters news agency reported that the shots were fired, explaining that the procession to the church was part of events to mark the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer one year ago.
It was unclear who fired the shots or if anyone was injured, a police spokesman told reporters. Initial reports suggested that the shots were not aimed at the marchers.
Moment of silence
The march toward the church was halted while police and ambulances rushed to an area behind the church where the shots were thought to have come from.
Several hundred demonstrators had gathered earlier to stand in silence at the very spot where Darren Wilson, a white police officer, had shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown one year ago.
'Black Lives Matter'
The killing of Brown, who was unarmed, sparked a wave of unrest with nights of protesting and clashes with the city police department and Missouri National Guard troops.
A grand jury and the US Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who later resigned in November. While Wilson was exonerated in the shooting, a separate report by the US Justice Department cited racial bias and profiling in the area's police force as well as a profit-driven municipal court system that often targeted black residents. African-Americans make up about two-thirds of the city population in Ferguson.
Ferguson's city manager, police chief and municipal judge resigned within days of that report. All three were white and have been replaced with black representatives.
Brown's death and subsequent killings by police around the country of other unarmed African-Americans have triggered riots, protests and outrage over police brutality, sparking the "Black Lives Matter" movement - which has campaigned online to call attention to police violence, especially against people of color.
ss/gsw (Reuters, AFP)