Suspect arrested in the shooting death of a man during a protest in Louisville by theHe had participated in protests but was disruptive and other protesters asked him to leave, authorities and protesters said Sunday.
The man, identified by an arrest warrant as Steven Nelson Lopez, was hospitalized and interviewed by homicide investigators about the shooting on Saturday night, Louisville Acting Police Chief Robert Schroeder said at a news conference. .
López was wounded in the leg by shots fired by bystanders in the park who were defending themselves, the arrest quote said. He has been charged with murder and senseless danger.
Tyler Charles Gerth, 27, of Louisville, died after being shot in Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, authorities said. The Courier Journal reported that Gerth was an avid photographer and vocal advocate for the ongoing protests whose godfather is a columnist for the newspaper.
In a video of the shooting shown during the press conference, López was surrounded by several people before they were shot, and people rushed to cover. Another video posted on social media later showed at least one person bleeding profusely on the ground.
Several other people fired after the suspect started firing, but no one else was hit, Louisville Mayor Greg 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 not what they or any of us wanted,” Fischer said. “We cannot allow a senseless act by an individual to derail that dream, that vision that we have as a city.”
For almost a month, protesters have been callingTo be charged. Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed at her Louisville home in March by police serving a . One of the officers was recently .
Saturday’s shooting was at least the second during the protests. Seven people were injured on May 28 when the gunfire erupted near the town hall, prompting Taylor’s mother to issue a statement calling on people to demand justice “without hurting themselves.”
Gerth’s family said he was “incredibly kind, tender and generous, with deep convictions and faith.”
“It was this sense of justice that led Tyler to be part of the peaceful protests that advocate for the destruction of systemic racism within our society’s systems,” the family said in a statement to the Courier Journal.
Protesters in the park on Sunday said Lopez was a familiar face around the protests, but that he sometimes caused problems. Julie Sullivan, who was near the corner where the shooter shot, said Lopez was asked to leave earlier on Saturday.
Sullivan said he heard about eight shots that broke a quiet day of protests. He saw some nearby children and yelled at them to crawl towards him.
“I’ve never been through something like this, and I hope I never go through something like that again,” Sullivan said.
Schroeder said the man had been participating in the protests since they started and that he had been arrested multiple times. The arrest quote said Lopez was born in 1996, but does not list any driver’s license or address numbers other than Louisville.
Lopez “has been repeatedly asked by other members of the park to leave because of his disruptive behavior,” Schroeder said.
Protesters were allowed to continue to gather in the park on Sunday, although police said camping and cooking were prohibited overnight. They also removed the tents and told protesters that they could collect them in a separate location.
John Kriner knelt for almost 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,” said Kriner.