Charges filed in 4th Precinct protest shootings

Charges were filed Monday against the 4 men accused of shooting into a crowd of protesters near the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct. Protesters and outraged community members, organized by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, have been occupying the precinct since Nov. 15, when 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot and killed by Minneapolis police.

The suspects

Allen Scarsella, 23
5 counts of second-degree assault and one count of rioting
$500,000 bail

Joseph Backman, 27
One count of rioting
$250,000 bail, no conditional option

Nathan Gustafsson, 21
One count of rioting
$250,000 bail, no conditional option

Daniel Macey, 26
One count of rioting
$250,000 without conditions or $100,000 with conditions including no contact with alleged victims and codefendants, staying away from the Fourth Precinct and an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew

Scarsella, Backman Gustavsson and Macey are all in custody. According to the criminal complaint, all 4 have admitted in jail phone conversations that they were present at the time of the shootings.

Nov. 23 shooting

At 10:40 p.m. on Nov. 23, ShotSpotter registered 8 shots fired near the 4th Precinct. Minneapolis police responded and determined 5 men had been shot and 8 discharged cartridge casings were recovered within two blocks of the 4th Precinct. The shooting victims were all black men and were all treated at local hospitals for gunshot wounds.

Surveillance video from the 4th Precinct and video from private citizens confirmed there were 4 suspects interacting with the protesters immediately prior to the shooting. The shooting was not captured on video.

Scarsella calls old friend, current cop

On Nov. 24, investigators learned that an old friend of Scarsella’s is a current Mankato police officer. After the shooting, Scarsella called the officer and told him he had just shot 5 people. The officer encouraged Scarsella to turn himself in and to also surrender his guns to police. The officer described Scarsella as being a “sovereign citizen and pro-Constitution,” and he knew Scarsella had negative opinions about African Americans.

4Chan post organizes ‘commotion’

Investigators learned that at least one possible suspect in the shootings argued with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis protesters on another occasion. Surveillance video from Nov. 19 captured Scarsella and another person at the 4th Precinct, dressed in camouflage and face masks. The duo had gone to the protest camp to film the protesters and make comments to spark anger.

Investigators have viewed a string of messages on 4Chan where participants discussed going to the Black Lives Matter protests to “stir things up” and “cause commotion.” Participants were encouraged to dress normal and look like the protesters, but were told to “feel free to carry.”

Video says 'stay white'

Prosecutors reference a video from Nov. 19 in which Scarsella and another man make derogatory statements about African Americans and say they're on a "search and recovery mission" with plans to do some “reverse cultural enriching” and “make the fire rise”. The video ends with the words, "stay white."

Racist images on phone

According to the charges, Scarsella’s phone contained racist images and many photos of himself holding guns. Police also found photos taken at a gathering of men in rural Pine County. Those photos showed men dressed in camouflage holding guns, and a Confederate flag is visible in at least one photo.

Scarsella admitted to an old high school friend that he shot the protesters Monday night in Minneapolis. That friend, who is now a Mankato police officer, told investigators that Scarsella considers himself "a sovereign citizen and pro-constitution."

A raid of Scarsella's Bloomington, Minn. home Tuesday morning led to the recovery of several guns, ammunition and tactical gear.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It was Raeisha Williams, communications chair of the Minneapolis NAACP that raised the allegation live on CNN, that law enforcement was somehow how linked to the shooting or the suspects.  It was not Black Lives Matter, as reported in the attached video.