A man attacked protesters in Seattle, Washington, on Sunday night, driving his car into the crowd then shooting one of the demonstrators in the arm. The whole thing was caught on video and shared on Twitter, to the horror of those watching from home. The shooting victim is expected to make a full recovery, according to a report by NBC News, and the suspected shooter is now in custody.
Firefighters and police took the 27-year-old shooting victim to the hospital, but authorities have not yet released his name or the name of the suspected shooter. Witnesses told reporters that the victim had been trying to stop the driver from plowing into the crowd before he was shot. Video footage showed the driver getting out of the car with a gun and running into the crowd, suggesting that he was not firing randomly. Police recovered a gun from the scene, but have not confirmed these accounts or provided alternate explanations.
A man drove through 11th and hit a barricade. He exited his car and flashed a gun. The police say they have the man in custody and have the gun. They asked for anybody who is hurt to come to the barricade. A man was on the ground on 11th and Pine. He’s up now. pic.twitter.com/47eZZOvG59— Chase Burns (@chaseburnsy) June 8, 2020
Seattle's protests were largely peaceful up until this shooting, which occurred around 8:30 p.m. local time. Hundreds of people reportedly showed up for the protests, which have been going strong for about two weeks now. However, after the shooting things reportedly took a more confrontational turn.
Police reportedly tried to disperse the protesters after the shooting, fearing violence among them and also fearing for their own safety. They told journalists that protesters had thrown random objects including fireworks at the police. They also claimed that demonstrators shined green lasers into officers' eyes, attempting to interfere with their vision and aim.
Suspect in custody, gun recovered after man drove vehicle into crowd at 11th and Pine. Seattle Fire transported victim to hospital. Officers searched, but do not believe there are any additional victims. Will provide updates when available.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) June 8, 2020
Police reportedly responded by firing flash bangs and pepper spray into the crowd. They authorized the use of tear gas as well — a controversial crowd-control method that some cities are now restricting or banning altogether, at the behest of protesters.
Still, Sunday's demonstrations were more peaceful than those on Saturday, according to NBC News. Police said that they were hit with rocks, bottles and "explosives" thrown from the crowd. However, when they posted a picture of the debris on Twitter, several people identified these "explosives" as wax candles in glass vases.
Regardless, the Seattle police chief and the mayor say that the officers on the street were merely trying to de-escalate these encounters over the last few nights. Protests and demonstrations around the country have continued since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. That city is now taking steps to replace its police department with a more holistic public safety system.