Four men are in custody and awaiting charges after five people were shot Monday night near a Black Lives Matter protest outside a police station in north Minneapolis, authorities announced Wednesday.
Joseph Backman, 27, Nathan Gustavsson, 21, Daniel Macey, 26, and Allen “Lance” Scarsella, 23, are awaiting charges in jail as Minneapolis police and federal investigators continue to gather evidence, according to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is expected to announce charges on Monday.
The shootings occurred about a block away from the precinct, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told BuzzFeed News.
All five people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Elder added.
Three gunshot victims were transported to North Memorial Medical Center by private vehicle, Elder said. The other two victims were taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance.
Misky Noor, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that one person required surgery after being shot in the stomach.
A police report reviewed by BuzzFeed News showed the five victims were all male and aged 19, 24, 29, 38, and 43.
The charges against the four men come after an extensive police search for the suspects.
"Dozens of officers responded almost immediately attending to victims and secured the scene," police said in a statement. "Additional resources were called in and are actively investigating the shootings, interviewing a multitude of witnesses."
Officers arrested 23-year-old Scarsella on Tuesday in Bloomington, to the south of Minneapolis.
Gustavsson and Macey turned themselves into police Tuesday afternoon.
Police also announced the arrest of a 32-year-old Hispanic man on Tuesday in South Minneapolis, but he was later released because "was not at the shooting scene," police said in a statement.
Adja Gilersleve, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, described four suspicious white men in masks at the protest to BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
"One of the protesters approached one of them because they were acting sketchy," she said. "And, after an altercation, found out that the shooter [had] on a bulletproof vest."
Noor told reporters Tuesday that protesters initially confronted four white men filming the encampment and began to "escort them away" when the men refused to remove their masks. The men then opened fire, she said.
"What happened last night was a planned hate crime and an act of terrorism," she said.
Noor was highly critical of the police response, accusing them of ignoring the threat of white supremacists to protesters and instead focusing their attention on peaceful demonstrators.
"We will not bow to fear or intimidation. Black Lives Matter exists to fight this type of dangerous white supremacy," she said.
A Minneapolis radio station published footage online that appeared to show the events leading up to the shooting. The station said it was sent the footage by a
listener. The events featured in the video appear to match those described by Noor, who said a group of masked men were filming protesters and then confronted by demonstrators.
Earlier this week, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis shared footage on social media showing what it said were armed white supremacists on their way to the protests.
Sources told Minnesota's Star Tribune newspaper that authorities are "weighing" whether to treat the incident as a hate crime.
Kyle Loven, a spokesperson for the FBI's Minneapolis division, told BuzzFeed News the bureau was aware of the incident. "We are currently coordinating with Minneapolis police to assess the matter and determine if federal action is appropriate," he said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office gave the same statement to BuzzFeed News.
The incident comes after protests erupted in Minneapolis following the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, by police on Nov. 15.
Authorities have said Clark was shot during a struggle while they were trying to protect an assault victim.
Protesters have said Clark was handcuffed when he was shot and have called for videos related to his death to be released.
The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether Clark's civil rights were violated.
The Hennepin County Attorney on Tuesday announced it would be presenting the case to a grand jury to consider criminal charges.
A statement from Eddie Sutton, Clark's brother, that was shared by Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison after Monday's shooting read:
"Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight's shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th Precinct ended and onto the next step.""
However, a spokesperson inside Black Lives Matter said there was more than just one opinion within the family about what to do, and told BuzzFeed News "we are working closely with them."
On Tuesday afternoon, protesters gathered for more demonstrations.
In a video statement, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said she "abhorred" the attacks.
After the two arrests, Hodges said:
"It has been reported that [the Minneapolis Police Department] has apprehended a second suspect in last night's shooting. As I said before, we are sparing no efforts to bring any and all those responsible to justice. I want to thank the community for their outpouring of information to MPD which has been critical in making these apprehensions."
In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Sen. Al Franken, who represents Minnesota, said he was "horrified" to learn of the shooting.
Amy Klobuchar, the state's senior senator, also condemned the "acts of violence" and called for peace.
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz also released a statement on the shooting:
The shooting last night of protesters in Minneapolis at an ongoing demonstration for Jamar Clark is both horrific and tragic. While thankfully none of the injuries to protesters are life-threatening, this is another reminder that racism remains ever-present in communities across our country, and that minority communities feel threatened physically and by the structural obstacles that a legacy of slavery and racism have left behind.
Protesters have a right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. And our nation’s leaders have an obligation to protect that right.
When presidential candidates criticize the concerns and legitimate grievances of the African American community, when they condone dismissiveness, or as one Republican presidential candidate said this weekend, that an anti-racism protestor maybe ‘should have been roughed up,’ they contribute to hostility.
There is no place for violence in our public discourse and certainly no place for irresponsible leadership in presidential campaigns more worried about playing to the ugliest elements of their party’s base than about doing what’s right. Every Republican presidential candidate ought to speak out against violence against protesters if they’re serious about wanting to lead America.
Mike Hayes contributed to this report.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
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