By Doug Glass And Steve Karnowski
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MINNEAPOLIS _ Police were searching Tuesday for three white male suspects who authorities say shot and injured five people protesting the fatal police shooting of a black man in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis.
The shootings took place Monday night about a block from a police precinct, where protesters have been demonstrating since the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15. Clark’s family called for the protests to end out of safety concerns.
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.
A number of fatal police shootings around the U.S. have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting the treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement agencies.
In statement, Clark’s family thanked protesters for “the incredible support.”
“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 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 secured 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.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Chicago contributed to this report.