LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Seven people were shot Thursday night in downtown Louisville during a protest to demand justice for the shooting death of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor during a March police raid, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department.
One person who was shot is in "critical" condition, police said. According to a statement from Mayor Greg Fischer early Friday morning, two victims were sent to surgery.
All of the shooting victims are civilians, according to LMPD, which said none of the victims were shot by officers and that it is "too early to comment on suspects."
Jessie Halladay, a special advisor to LMPD, said the situation is "fluid" and the department is still assessing how to proceed.
"It is unclear at this time whether or not we will be able to provide additional updates this evening," an LMPD spokesperson said in a statement late Thursday night.
Shots were fired around 11:30 p.m. Thursday as hundreds of people gathered on Jefferson Street, near Metro Hall and the Hall of Justice. Before the shots were fired, protesters tried to flip an LMPD prison transport vehicle.
LMPD has not said who fired the shots.
Police made some arrests during the protest, according to LMPD's statement, but the department did not specify how many. More information will be made available Friday.
The crowd quickly dispersed from Jefferson Street after the shots were fired, and a large group of LMPD officers wearing riot gear entered the area to try and clear everyone out. Police then appeared to fire tear gas into the area when protesters refused to leave.
The protesters began gathering around 7 p.m. around the Hall of Justice on Jefferson Street. They were blocking traffic and sometimes walking with their hands up. They chanted, "No justice, no peace," and sometimes included, "Prosecute the police." A Megabus and at least one Transit Authority of River City bus could not move. Some protesters stood with locked arms, and others were on one knee.
Juniyah Palmer, Taylor's sister, urged protesters to "stop tonight before people get hurt" in a video posted to social media.
"Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna's name tonight," she said. "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. We appreciate you more than you know. Please say her name. We will get justice for Breonna."
Bianca Austin, Taylor's aunt, posted a statement on behalf of Taylor's mother to her Facebook page, according to a tweet from Fischer.
"We are so grateful for everyone giving Bre a voice tonight, for saying her name, for demanding truth, for demanding justice and for demanding accountability. Please keep demanding this. But please keep it peaceful. Do not succumb to the levels that we see out of the police. Speak. Protest. But do not resort to violence. We demand change. We demand reform. But we do not need for our community to get hurt. We need for our community to get justice. Thank you all so very much. #JusticeForBre"
Fischer and community leaders held a virtual town hall Thursday to discuss police and community relations, specifically the events surrounding Taylor's death and LMPD's investigation into the raid on her apartment. In his statement made early Friday morning, the mayor said, "I feel the community’s frustration, the anger, the fear. But tonight’s violence and destruction is not the way to solve it."
"Breonna’s death was a terrible tragedy. But, as Breonna’s family said tonight, answering violence with violence is not the answer," Fischer said. "Gunfire and vandalism does not advance our cause – and it cannot be tolerated.
"I support protesters’ First Amendment rights to share their frustrations, in a peaceful manner.
"Clearly, we, as a community and a country, have work to do to advance our shared goal of a society where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential – and to live safely.
"I urge protesters, again, as Breonna’s family said tonight – to say her name. But let’s not see anyone else get hurt. There is only one way forward, and that’s working together. Work for the truth, work for peace, work for justice. For Breonna, her family and for all of Louisville. Our community of Louisville is a place that so many of us love – with all of its beauty and imperfections. We have no choice but to rise to this moment, work together through our challenges and build our city up – for everyone."
I urge protesters, as Breonna Taylor’s family said tonight, to say her name. But let’s not see anyone else get hurt. Let’s work together for peace, justice & for Breonna & all of Louisville. pic.twitter.com/RHyMgUV073— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) May 29, 2020
After assembling on Jefferson Street, the crowd made its way toward the Second Street Bridge, which resulted in tense moments between protesters and LMPD officers.
LMPD told WDRB News around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, "We are currently working a large crowd in the downtown area around Second Street. Please help us get a request out to the public to avoid the area until further notice."
Taylor was killed March 13 when LMPD officers served a "no-knock" search warrant at her home on Springfield Drive. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room tech and former EMT, was inside the apartment with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Audio from 911 calls made the night of LMPD's raid on Taylor's apartment was released Thursday. In one of the calls, Walker can be heard telling a dispatcher he didn't know what was happening and that someone "kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend."
The FBI announced it was opening an investigation into Taylor's death on May 21.
Protesters also referenced the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
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