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Michael Brown's family condemns officers' shooting

The two police officers were treated and released from Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

By Amy R. Connolly and Danielle Haynes
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Michael Brown's family condemns officers' shooting
A policeman surveys the area outside of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department after two policeman were shot during a protest in Ferguson, MIssouri on March 12, 2015. About 50 protesters gathered at the police department to celebrate the news that police chief Thomas Jackson had resigned. Two officers were hit as they stood guard outside of the police station. One officer was hit in the face, the other in the shoulder. Both are listed in serious condition but are expected to live. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

FERGUSON, Mo., March 12 (UPI) -- Update 2:50 p.m. EST:

The family of Michael Brown Jr. released a statement Thursday condemning the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson.

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Brown, an African-American teenager, was killed in August by a white police officer, an incident that sparked protests and an investigation into the city's police and judicial system.

The unrest led up to the shooting of two police officers around midnight, both of whom were treated and released from Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Department said in a Facebook post.

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The department also released photos of a bloody police helmet from the scene of the shooting on the post.

"The family of Michael Brown, Jr. condemns this morning's senseless shooting of two Ferguson police officers," the statement read.

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"We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot and will not be tolerated.

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"We specifically denounce the actions of stand-alone agitators who unsuccessfully attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality and to forward the cause of equality under the law for all.

"We must work together to bring peace to our communities.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the officers injured during this morning's shooting and their families."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also issued a statement, calling the shootings "a cowardly act."

"I condemn violence against any public safety officials in the strongest terms, and the Department of Justice will never accept any threats or violence directed at those who serve and protect our communities."

Meanwhile, officers searched a residence in Ferguson on Thursday morning searching for those responsible for the shootings. The home is about four blocks west of the police station where the shooting took place.

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A witness told the St. Louis Post Dispatch she saw officers bring two men out of the house. The woman who rents the residence was also brought out in handcuffs. Police said they are questioning the three people but have no one under arrest.

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Update 10:42 a.m. EST:

One of the police officers shot in Ferguson early this morning has a bullet lodged in his head and the other was shot through the shoulder, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said.

The officer from nearby Webster Groves, Mo., was shot under his right eye and the bullet is lodged behind one of his ears, Belmar said in a press conference Thursday morning. The other officer, from St. Louis Police, was struck in the shoulder and the bullet came out his back. They were standing next to each other in front of the Ferguson police station when the shots were fired about midnight. Their injuries are serious but not life threatening.

Police said the shooter was possibly "embedded" in a crowd of peaceful protesters. Authorities are reviewing area surveillance video for more information.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said it's been difficult to balance safety concerns with the demonstrators' right to free speech.

"Everybody needs to keep a cool head," he said." We certainly want to avoid situations like this."

Original story follows:

Two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police station early Thursday as demonstrations, which began as celebratory, quickly turned violent.

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The two officers -- one from St. Louis County and the other from the nearby town of Webster Groves -- were, according to local officials, in serious condition. Both officers were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were conscious, authorities said.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the shots were "directed exactly at my police officers."

"I don't know who did the shooting, to be honest with you," he said.

Demonstrators gathered around the Ferguson police station on Wednesday night after embattled Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced his resignation. The move came as part of the shakeup resulting from a highly critical Department of Justice report in the wake of the shooting of black teen Michael Brown by white police officer, Darren Wilson, in August.

Police from neighboring jurisdictions were brought into the area to watch the demonstrators on Wednesday. As the peaceful protest was beginning to disburse early Thursday, shots were fired, police said.

"All of a sudden, I heard at least four or five shots ring out," witness Markus Loehrer told CNN. "It took me at least 30 seconds of watching before I realized there was an officer down. We are not there to shoot cops, we don't like violence. So we did what anybody would do -- we ran away."

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Police said the St. Louis County police officer was struck in the shoulder and the Webster Groves officer was hit in the face, but eyewitness accounts said the Webster Groves officer was hit in the shoulder.

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