Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, one of whom was in critical condition, during protests that turned violent Thursday, police said.
Circumstances of the shootings were not immediately clear, and a police spokesman called the situation downtown fluid early Friday.
Officers were not involved in the shootings, which happened during the protest, Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said. No other details were immediately available.
The demonstratons started peacefully, police special adviser Jessie Halladay said earlier in a video call.
“What we are seeing tonight in this community is the obvious frustration of the tension between police and residents,” Halladay said as the situation was unfolding.
“What started out as a peaceful protest earlier this evening is now escalating into property damage, more aggressive action, and we’ve just heard reports of shots fired in the crowd,” she said at the time. She said that in addition to property damage bottles had been thrown at officers.
The crowd had gathered in Louisville to decry the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police during a raid at her home in the early-morning hours of March 13.
She was home with her boyfriend, and the two thought their apartment was being broken into when the boyfriend fired at police after calling 911, the family said in a lawsuit. Neither had any criminal history or history with drugs and no drugs were found, the suit says. The FBI is investigating.
But Thursday’s protests erupted as crowds gathered across the nation to call for action in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died Monday after a white Minnesota police officer placed his knee over his neck. In Minneapolis, a police precinct caught fire Thursday night amid protests there.
In Louisville Thursday, several hundred protesters converged on downtown Louisville for several hours, NBC affiliate WAVE reported.
Bernard Bradberry, 44, came to the protest with his son A.J., and they said they wanted justice, the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper reported.
Bradberry called what he and others see as a lack of police accountability “a slap in the face,” the newspaper reported. “It’s like, do they even feel sorry for what they’ve done?” he asked.
At one point in the night, crowds were seen facing off against officers with batons and in riot gear.
One officer was seen firing what appeared to be a paintball gun. Those are sometimes used to shoot “pepper balls” but it was not clear what was used, although people in the crowd behaved as though there was an irritant in the air, video showed.
People in the crowd used tables as shields and chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” according to video from the scene.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher tweeted a video from Breonna Taylor’s family late Thursday in which the woman in the video called for peace.
“Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna’s name tonight,” the woman says. “We are not going to stop until we get justice. But we should stop tonight before people get hurt. Please go home, be safe, and be ready to keep fighting.”
Washington, the police spokesman, said that there have been some arrests related to the protest, but he did not know how many early Friday and said more information would be available later in the day.