Police in Minneapolis were looking for three white male suspects Tuesday morning after gunmen opened fire and injured five people at a Black Lives Matter protest around 10:45 p.m. on Monday night, reported the Star Tribune.
None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, though one was reportedly shot in the stomach and needed surgery.
A witness, Oluchi Omeoga, told the Associated Press that prior to the shooting, she saw three people in masks “who weren’t supposed to be there.” Those three individuals were being escorted from the rally by demonstrators, a Black Lives Matter organizer told the New York Times, when they pulled out their weapons and started shooting.
According to the Times, witnesses on social media reported that the gunmen, who fled the scene, were wearing bulletproof vests.
The protests where the shooting took place have been going on for more than a week, with demonstrators pitching tents about a block from Minneapolis’s 4th Precinct police station to call for answers in the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, a black man who was shot in the head by a police officer following an altercation on Nov. 15. Witnesses to that incident said Clark was in handcuffs when he was shot, which the police have disputed. According to the AP, investigators from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are reviewing video footage taken from the ambulance, a mobile police camera, and other sources, but they’ve said none of it shows what happened in its entirety.
Demands for the video footage to be released publicly have been the driving force behind protests since Clark’s death, presumably because video footage has played such a pivotal role in garnering attention to previous police shootings—including that of Laquan McDonald in Chicago, whose killer is expected to be charged with first-degree murder Tuesday.
So far the agency leading the state investigation of Clark’s death has refused to release the footage. At a press conference on Monday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he had viewed one of the tapes but declined to describe it. He also said it did not conclusively prove whether Clark was handcuffed at the time of his death. The Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP responded by renewing calls for the video to be released, arguing in a statement that the governor’s remarks had reinforced “the public’s need to see the videotape for themselves and to draw their own conclusions, rather than relying upon the perspective of one government official who is not a trained expert in this field.”
Miski Noor, who is a Black Lives Matter organizer in Minneapolis, told the Times that groups of men had been showing up to the protests for several days and filming demonstrators. Citing Noor, the Times reported that organizers had responded to the perceived threat by forming a safety committee to “watch for potential agitators and escort them away as a preventive measure.”
According to the AP, the family of Jamar Clark issued a statement through the office of Congressman Keith Ellison asking that demonstrators to end “the occupation of the 4th precinct” and move on to “the next step” in light of the safety concerns raised by Monday night’s shooting.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, prior to the shooting, Black Lives Matter had planned to announce “next steps” that the group had prepared during a weekend strategy meeting with community organizers.
Update, 2:03 p.m.: Two suspects have reportedly been arrested in connection with a shooting Monday night in Minneapolis that left five Black Lives Matter protesters injured. One of the two suspects now in custody is a 23-year-old white male.
Citing sources familiar with the investigation, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that authorities are trying to decide whether to treat the incident as a hate crime. While details about what exactly happened Monday night and who the attackers are remain very sketchy, an organizer for Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis described the gunmen as “white supremacists.”
Update, 5:10 p.m.: The second suspect arrested Tuesday afternoon has been identified as a 32-year-old Hispanic man. The police investigation looking into other possible suspects continues.