Shooting suspects charged

The same day the criminal complaints were filed, Mayor Betsy Hodges called for an end to the 4th Precinct demonstrations.

Protesters practice forming lines of defense at the 4th Precinct on Monday. Protesters spent the day preparing to be pushed out of the location by police after Mayor Betsy Hodges called for an end to the demonstrations.

Maddy Fox

Protesters practice forming lines of defense at the 4th Precinct on Monday. Protesters spent the day preparing to be pushed out of the location by police after Mayor Betsy Hodges called for an end to the demonstrations.

Four men were charged on Monday for last week’s shooting of five protesters near the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct.

Protesters have occupied the precinct in the days following the Nov. 15 fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark. On Nov. 23, a shooting near the precinct wounded five African-American men. 

The four defendants, Allen Scarsella, 23, Joseph Backman, 27, Nathan Gustavsson, 21, and Daniel Macey, 26, have been charged with second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Hennepin County Court. 

Scarsella was also charged with five counts of second-degree assault with a weapon, according to the complaint. 

Police arrested Scarsella on Nov. 24 at his Bloomington residence, where they recovered multiple guns and ammunition, including a handgun that matched discharged casings found at the scene, the complaint said.

On Scarsella’s cellphone, police also found texts between Scarsella, Backman and Gustavsson about plans to go to the protests on Nov. 23. 

The cellphone also had photos of Scarsella with guns and “racist images,” the complaint said. Police also found a photo with Scarsella and others holding guns, in which a confederate flag is visible, according to the complaint.

Following the shooting, Scarsella called a police officer that he knew personally and told him that he had shot five people, the complaint said. 

The officer knew of Scarsella’s “negative experiences with and opinions about African-Americans” the complaint said. 

A man who accompanied Scarsella to the protests on Nov. 19 told investigators that Scarsella verbally harassed protesters. The man and Scarsella made a video that night which contains racial slurs, according to the complaint. 

Scarsella and the three other suspects are now in custody;  “all four have admitted in jail phone conversations that they were present at the shooting incident.”

Hodges calls for end of protests

Mayor Betsy Hodges called for the demonstration at the 4th Precinct to end at a press conference on Monday.

In a letter posted on her website, Hodges said that the continuous fires are polluting the air and emergency vehicles and snow plows can’t access the occupied Plymouth Avenue. 

Numerous community members and leaders, including Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., signed the letter, which also expressed concern over an increase in gun violence, citing cases of additional shots fired in the area in nights following the shooting on Nov. 23. 

Other concerns included false medical calls for help and “near-daily” threats to burn down the precinct or harm officers. 

“Sadly, the continued presence at the Fourth Precinct has attracted people from outside our neighborhood and our city who intend to cause harm, people with violent agendas that are not aligned with peaceful protesters,” the letter said. 

The letter noted that many of the protesters’ demands had been met and highlighted Gov. Mark Dayton’s pursuit to address racial disparities and his call for a federal investigation of possible civil rights violations during the protest. 

“The need for equity in Minneapolis remains urgent and paramount,” the letter said.

The Minneapolis chapters of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP issued a joint statement in response to Mayor Hodges. 

“If Mayor Hodges is so concerned about safety, she should join us and call for the appointment of special prosecutor to investigate Jamar Clark’s murder to avoid using a broken grand jury system,” organizer Miski Noor said in the statement. “Instead, she’s using her political capital to attack peaceful protesters braving white supremacist attacks and freezing temperatures to demand justice for Jamar Clark.”