A Seattle man who allegedly drove a car at a crowd of protesters and shot a bystander is in custody as experts express growing fears that vehicular attacks may be used to undermine peaceful demonstrations.
The suspected gunman drove a black sedan toward a group of bystanders protesting George Floyd’s death on Sunday night, police said. He allegedly shot one person, then exited his vehicle while brandishing a firearm in the presence of thousands of demonstrators.
The alleged attack, which occurred near the intersection of Pine Street and 11th Avenue and south of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, was captured on video by a number of witnesses at the scene.
One clip, shared on Twitter, appeared to show a sedan approaching the crowd. As the car slowed, one demonstrator attempted to reach into the car and was apparently shot. Several bystanders scattered, while a number of others surrounded the vehicle in attempts to block its path. The driver quickly emerged from the sedan waving what appeared to be a pistol, before disappearing into a throng of people.
The man was later apprehended by police. As of Monday morning, authorities hadn’t identified the suspect or released a motive in the alleged attacks.
The alleged victim was listed in “stable condition” prior to being transported to a hospital, according to the Seattle Fire Department. The man, who suffered a gunshot wound to his arm, told eyewitnesses he had jumped in front of the moving vehicle to shield other protesters.
Law enforcement stated no one else was wounded in the shooting.
“Officers searched, but do not believe there are any additional victims,” Seattle Police Department wrote in a post late Sunday evening. “Will provide updates when available.”
A spokesperson for Seattle Police Department declined to comment on Monday.
As thousands protest George Floyd’s death in city streets across the U.S., a number of collisions and near crashes — some unintentional, and others deadly — involving protesters, motorists, and sometimes police, have been widely shared by eyewitnesses on social media.
Some of the collisions — like one in Bakersfield, California — have been accidental, according to authorities. A semi-truck driver, who unintentionally drove into a mass freeway protest in Minneapolis last week, as well, was also arrested and later released last week. No one was injured in that incident, according to authorities.
However, other collisions had apparently malicious intent.
On June 7, self-admitted Ku Klux Klan “leader” and rightwing extremist, Harry H. Rogers allegedly “revved his engine” and “drove into protesters” in Richmond, Virginia, prosecutors said in a statement. He has been charged with malicious wounding and felony vandalism in the June 7 incident. He may also face hate crimes charges, prosecutors said.
As nationwide protests enter their third week, some experts fear car attacks could become the weapon of choice for agitators and extremists alike, who may be seeking to disrupt or undermine peaceful demonstrations.
“Now we’re seeing during these protests, cars used, in some cases by white supremacists to attack peaceful protesters,” Amy Spitalnick, executive director Integrity First For America, told Oxygen.com.
The civil rights nonprofit represents a number of individuals who were injured in the vehicular attack at Charlottesville's "Unite The Right” rally.
“The fact that this specific attack in Richmond involved a self-admitted leader of the KKK only affirms the fact that this has become a deliberate tactic.”
Law enforcement also cautioned protesters to remain vigilant and mindful of what’s happening around them at all times, particularly when surrounded by large groups.
“If you’re going out, if you’re protesting, you have to be aware of your surroundings, including vehicles that are on the road,” Lt. John Grimpel, of the New York City Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
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