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An unidentified black man was shot and killed by police Tuesday afternoon in north St. Louis, just miles outside of Ferguson, where protesters and police are in a tense standoff following the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.

Police on Tuesday afternoon responded to a robbery at a convenience store and found a 23-year-old who witnesses say was "acting erratically." The man reportedly charged the two officers with a knife, forcing them to shoot him in self-defense, according to St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson. Witnesses told police that the man said "shoot me, kill me now." He was reportedly within four feet of the officers when they opened fire, Dotson said at a press conference.

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Both officers have been placed on administrative duty while authorities conduct an internal investigation. The shooting victim has not yet been identified.

"One witness described it as a suicide by cop, I haven’t described it that way," Dotson said.

The shooting took place at the intersection of Riverview Boulevard and McLaran Avenue in St. Louis, approximately three miles from Ferguson.

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Dotson said the officers involved in Tuesday's shooting feared for their lives.

“Our policy is, at the end of the day, the officer should be able to go home, and the amount of force necessary to overcome resistance, if a person is charging you within 3-4 feet that’s a lethal range," he said.

With reporting from ABC News

Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.