Allen Scarsella, a 24-year-old man from Bloomington, Minnesota, has been found guilty of 11 charges of assault as well as one of riot, after he opened fire during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Five men were wounded in the incident, which took place in November 2015.
Scarsella was accused of injuring the men – who were all African-American – at a demonstration in response to the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was shot dead by police. The shooting of the unarmed man following an assault call to Minneapolis police, sparked weeks of protests in Minnesota, including at Minnesota airport.
Scarsella was armed with a handgun, which he had a permit for, when he entered the demonstration on 23 November, with three other men, wearing face masks. Though Scarsella's defence argued he had acted in self-defence when he shot at demonstrators, prosecutors presented evidence including texts sent by Scarsella to friends about shooting black people. One of the texts read to the court, said: "Cool – the gun I'm getting is proven to kill black guys in a single shot."
Jamar Clark's cousin, Cameron Clark, was one of the five men injured in the shooting and said he was surprised by the verdict. The Chicago Tribune quotes Clark as having said: "I was kind of really thinking that [the jurors] were going to be on his side and they were going to let him go because he was claiming self-defence."
The injuries sustained by the five men included leg, arm, foot, stomach and back wounds. Though no one was fatally injured in the attack, one of the victims was shot so close to an artery the bullet could not be removed.
The three men present with Scarsella during the incident stand charged with second-degree riot and aiding an offender and are awaiting trial. Scarsella will be sentenced on March 10.