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In a case that has ignited racial tensions across the country, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri has decided not to indict the police officer who shot and killed 18 year-old Michael Brown.

The decision was announced by prosecutor Robert McCulloch during a live broadcast late Monday evening.

Darren Wilson, a white suburban police officer at the center of the media firestorm, shot the black teenager multiple times earlier this year after Brown was accused of stealing a box of cigars.

The prosecutor, who expressed sympathies for Brown’s family, said law enforcement officials spent hundreds of hours pouring over “physical evidence” before arriving at their conclusion that Wilson would not be charged.

“Regardless of the grand jury’s decision, the Brown family and our legal team ask again for peace and calm, even though we understand people may have feelings of anger or disappointment,” Benjamin Crump, the Brown family’s attorney, said in a statement prior to the announcement. “We encourage people to take their frustrations to the ballot box, not the streets.”

President Obama also echoed the Brown family’s call for peace in a nationally televised announcement.

But demonstrators immediately marched on the streets of Ferguson where police fired tear gas on the crowds, some of whom were seen looting local businesses amid broken glass and small fires.

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