Crowds confront police near the scene of shooting on Wednesday.

An off-duty police officer in St. Louis, Missouri, emptied 17 rounds of ammunition as he shot dead an African-American teenager who fired on him on Wednesday night, scarcely miles away from the town of Ferguson, where a similar police shooting on August 9 had inflamed racial tensions and an unprecedented, military-style police crackdown.

‘Physical altercation’

Protests were sparked-off south of the city after St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said that the officer — who has not been named thus far and was on patrol for a private security company — engaged three men in a chase and shot one of them, an 18-year-old, in the chest after a “physical altercation.”

Just two months ago, the shooting of another African-American teenager Michael Brown, followed by an aggressive police response that involved numerous arrests and tear gas deployment, had transformed the neighbouring town of Ferguson into a symbol of resistance to discriminatory policing and excessive use of force.

Mr. Dotson said that the officer who fired at the teenager was a “six-year force veteran.” It was unclear how many times the officer’s bullets hit the man.

He added that a 9mm Ruger pistol was recovered at the scene, as well as ballistic evidence of three projectiles fired in the direction of the officer — who was not harmed by them — and that the police “knew” the victim, potentially suggesting a juvenile record. However, some in the U.S. media quoted the victim’s relatives as telling that he was not armed.

Among the protesters rallying in parts of the city, some shouted at police officers, “Hands up, don’t shoot” — the same slogan called out after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed Brown .

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