LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in the death of a Kentucky man who was fatally shot amid a protest in Louisville over the killing of Breonna Taylor, police said Sunday.
The suspect was hospitalized and being interviewed by homicide investigators, interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said at a news conference. The man’s name was not immediately released.
Police were conferring with prosecutors on criminal charges to be filed, Schroeder said. Neither Schroeder nor Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said why the suspect was in the hospital.
Tyler Charles Gerth, 27, of Louisville, died after being shot at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, authorities said. The Courier Journal reported that Gerth was an avid photographer and a vocal supporter of the ongoing protests whose godfather is a columnist at the newspaper.
In a video of the shooting shown during the news conference, the suspect was surrounded by several people before shots were fired and people scrambled for cover. Schroeder said the suspect had been participating in the protests since they began and had been arrested a few times.
“He had been repeatedly asked by other members at the park to leave due to his destructive behavior,” Schroeder said.
Another video posted on social media later showed at least one person bleeding profusely on the ground.
Several other people fired gunshots after the suspect began firing, but no one else was hit, Fischer said.
“Whether they were there at the time of the shooting or not, I know the sadness of those who have been organizing and participating in peaceful protests for racial justice. This is absolutely not what they wanted or any of us wanted,” Fischer said. “We cannot let one senseless act by one individual derail that dream, that vision that we have as a city.”
The shooting was at least the second during nearly a month of protests in Louisville over Taylor’s death. Seven people were wounded May 28 when gunfire erupted near City Hall, prompting Taylor’s mother to issue a statement asking people to demand justice “without hurting each other.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed in her Louisville home in March by police who were serving a no-knock warrant. Protesters have been calling for the officers involved in her death to be charged. One of the officers was recently fired.
Several dozen people gathered Sunday at the park. A few Louisville police officers arrived to hand out flyers that said overnight camping and cooking were banned at the site, but protesters would be allowed to continue gathering during the day. Police removed tents from the site and told protesters they could pick them up at a separate location.
John Kriner knelt for nearly 30 minutes at the site to pray for peace. He said it was his first visit.
“I just want there to be peace and calm,” Kriner said.
For weeks, the park has been the epicenter for protests in Louisville after the police killings of Taylor and George Floyd, who died last month at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was originally charged with attempted murder after he fired a shot at one of the officers who came into the home. Walker has said he thought he was defending against an intruder.
The no-knock search warrant that allows police to enter without first announcing their presence was recently banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.
Associated Press Writer John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia, contributed to this report.
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