Minneapolis NAACP leader Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks at a prayer vigil Friday, Nov. 20, 2015 in Minneapolis. A demonstration of people upset over the shooting death of a black man in a confrontation with Minneapolis police entered its seventh day Saturday, with an encampment of protesters at a north side police station vowing to maintain their vigilance until theyre satisfied the case has been properly resolved. (AP Photo/Greg Moore)
(Updated 11/24/2015) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police were searching Tuesday for three White male suspects suspected of shooting at five Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while the family of a Black man who was fatally shot by a city police officer called for the days long protests outside of a police precinct to end.
No one was seriously injured in the shooting that happened about 10:40 p.m. Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the attack, which took place about a block from the police department’s 4th Precinct, where protesters have been demonstrating since the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15.
Police said early Tuesday they had no one in custody and asked the public for help identifying the suspects.
Henry Habu, who said he has been working security for protesters, said he and others approached four people who were standing under a “Justice4Jamar” sign to ask what they were doing there. He described all four — three men and one woman — as White, with three wearing masks that left their eyes exposed. “We’re here for Jamar,” one said, according to Habu.
Habu said they tried to escort the four from the scene and they took off running north. Habu said he did not see the shooting that followed, but heard it.
“Bam bam bam bam,” he said. “It happened so fast.”
Oluchi Omeoga witnessed the shooting and said a handful of protesters followed three men wearing masks to a street corner, where the men pulled out weapons and gunshots rang out.
Clark’s family thanked protesters for “the incredible support” in a statement released early Tuesday, attributed to his brother Eddie Sutton and issued through U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s office. “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 plans to announce its “next steps” Tuesday afternoon following a weekend meeting with community members about strategy.
On Tuesday morning, about 50 protesters were outside of 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.
Journalist Brandon Smith, left, and activist William Calloway talk to reporters Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, after a Cook County judge ordered the Chicago Police Department to release a video of an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Nov. 25, in Chicago. The video is said to show the officer shooting McDonald 16 times in October 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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.
Habu said a crowd gathered around the shooting scene and police used a chemical irritant to push them back.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said officers responded to the Monday night shooting and that dozens of officers assisted victims and secure the scene. Elder didn’t immediately respond to a question about chemical irritant use.
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. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it has video from the ambulance, a mobile police camera and other sources, but none of it shows the event in its entirety. The agency, which is conducting a state investigation, said releasing the footage now would taint its investigation.
A federal criminal civil rights investigation is also underway to determine whether police intentionally violated Clark’s civil rights through excessive force.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Chicago contributed to this report.