Minneapolis police were searching Tuesday for three white male suspects who authorities say shot five Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while the family of a black man who was fatally shot by a city police officer called for the days-long protests outside of a police precinct to end.
No one was seriously injured in the shooting that happened about 10:40 p.m. Monday, and it wasn't immediately clear who was behind the attack. Police said early Tuesday they are searching for three white male suspects.
A witness to the shooting, Oluchi Omeoga, reported seeing three strangers who "weren't supposed to be there" wearing masks among the protesters. The three strangers left the protest and a handful of protesters followed them to a street corner, where the masked men pulled out weapons and gunshots rang out, Omeoga said.
The shootings took place about a block from the police department's 4th Precinct, where protesters have been demonstrating since the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, calling for the release of video documenting his death.
Clark's family thanked protesters for "the incredible support" in a statement attributed to his brother Eddie Sutton and issued through U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's office. "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," the statement said.
Black Lives Matter had previously planned to announce "next steps" on Tuesday morning following a weekend meeting with community members about strategy.
On Tuesday morning, about 50 protesters were outside of the 4th Precinct, and more were trickling in. Some said they planned to stay and demonstrate despite the request from Clark's family. A protester who gave his name as Big Don Carlito says demonstrations no longer have anything to do with the Clark family.
"If we fold on it, they won," he said.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said officers responded to the Monday night shooting and that dozens of officers assisted victims and secure the scene.
Mica Grimm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter who said she arrived on the scene soon after the shooting, said two people were shot in the leg, another in the arm and a fourth in the stomach. None suffered life-threatening injuries.
Authorities have said Clark was shot during a struggle with police after he interfered with paramedics who were trying to assist an assault victim. But some people who said they saw the shooting allege Clark was handcuffed.
Protesters and Clark's family have been calling for investigators to release video of the shooting. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it has video from the ambulance, a mobile police camera and other sources, but none of it shows the event in its entirety. The agency, which is conducting a state investigation, said releasing the footage now would taint its investigation.
A federal criminal civil rights investigation is also underway to determine whether police intentionally violated Clark's civil rights through excessive force.