The shots were fired just as a small crowd of protesters began to break up after holding a demonstration in the wake of the resignation of the Ferguson police chief, who stepped down Wednesday.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said one officer was shot in the face, just below his right eye, with the bullet lodging behind his ear. The other officer was hit in the shoulder, and the bullet came out his back.
Both men were expected to recover without suffering any long-term damage, Belmar said, but the wounds might have been mortal.
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"We could have buried two police officers next week over this," he said.
The 32-year-old officer who was shot in the face was from nearby Webster Groves. The second officer, 41, came from the St. Louis County force.
Both were taken to a hospital, where Belmar said they were conscious.
Authorities believe the shots came from a handgun fired about 120 yards away. There were no suspects in custody.
Based on where the officers were standing and the trajectory of the bullets, the shots appeared to be aimed directed at the police, Belmar said.
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"This is really an ambush," he said. "You are basically defenseless. It is hard to guard against."
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