By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The images are stark — people clashing with police, buildings on fire, vandalism, shootings and even killings.
Some, including President Donald Trump, appear to have conflated some of the violence across the nation with protests that have sprung up in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
But an ABC News examination of a string of fatal and non-fatal confrontations that have occurred amidst the unrest has found the alleged motive for most of the carnage in those incidents are not directly linked to peaceful civil disobedience.
The recent shooting deaths of two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a protest over a police shooting that left Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, paralyzed, and the death of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a 39-year-old white man, fatally shot in Portland, Oregon, coincided with ongoing demonstrations but the motives remain under investigation.
Some of the deaths have allegedly been perpetrated by suspects with their own agendas that do not include social justice; others have allegedly been carried out by agitators seeking to use the protests as cover for their own purposes, including looting and other violent acts. Some may have resulted from personal disputes.
Protests nationwide began in the aftermath of the May 25 death of Floyd, a handcuffed Black man captured on cellphone video pleading for his life as Minneapolis police officers held him face-down on the ground, one with a knee planted on the back of Floyd’s neck.
Here are a dozen deaths examined by ABC News that have occurred during the protests in which police have either charged suspects, identified those allegedly involved, or obtained video of the crimes:
Armed teenager arrested in Kenosha double slay
A group of armed individuals gathered in Kenosha, claiming they were there to help police protect businesses in the city of 100,000 after buildings were set ablaze and stores were looted during protests in the wake of Blake’s shooting. Investigators say they suspect that among the group was 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who was seen in cellphone videos armed with an AR-15 style rifle.
Prosecutors allege Rittenhouse, who at one time was part of a youth public safety program run by local Illinois police, shot and killed two men, Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and wounded a third man, during an Aug. 25 protest. Attorneys for Rittenhouse, who was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and reckless homicide, said he acted in self-defense.
Trump has declined to condemn Rittenhouse, who is being charged as an adult and has yet to enter a plea, saying at an Aug. 31 news conference that the teenager’s actions amounted to “self-defense.”
“He probably would have been killed,” Trump said at the news conference.
Fatal shooting in Portland
Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, was shot to death on Aug. 29 in Portland. Danielson, of Portland, was part of a group of people who described themselves as Trump supporters who came to Portland en masse and clashed with protesters. Friends said he was also a supporter of the right-wing group “Patriot Prayer.”
Last Thursday night, a 48-year-old Washington man wanted in Danielson’s death was fatally shot when a federal task force comprised of FBI and U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest him. Authorities allege the suspect, Michael Reinoehl, pulled a gun on the federal agents as they moved in to take him into custody in Lacey, Washington.
Reinoehl is believed to be the same man who appeared in a Vice News interview that aired Thursday night, in which he claimed he was providing security for the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland and appeared to say he shot Danielson in self-defense. Police have not commented on a motive for the shooting.
Police said Danielson was fatally shot in the chest during a confrontation around 8:46 p.m. that was caught on cellphone video by a videographer who told ABC News that Trump supporters fired paintball guns and pepper spray at protesters from the backs of pickup trucks as they rolled through the city. Police said the caravan had mostly cleared out of the downtown Portland area when the shooting occurred.
During a briefing on Aug. 31, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany mentioned Danielson, saying, “The president believes that people of all ideologies should be able to peacefully protest and not have their lives put at risk like Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson.”
Reading a statement at a news conference on Aug. 30, Chandler Pappas, a friend and business partner of Danielson’s, mourned him as “a good man” killed “senselessly.”
“He was Christian. He was conservative,” Pappas said.
Protester fatally shot in Austin
Garrett Foster, 28, was pushing his wheelchair-bound fiancee during a protest on July 25 in Austin, Texas, when police say a car drove into a crowd of demonstrators marching in a street and was quickly surrounded. Police said Foster was carrying an AK-47-type rifle when he was allegedly shot three times by the driver.
The driver was identified as Daniel Perry, an active-duty U.S. Army sergeant based at Fort Hood, by his own attorney, Clint Broden.
Perry, who was working as an Uber driver the night of the shooting to earn extra money, surrendered to police for questioning but was later released, Broden said. Austin police have only confirmed that the person who shot Garrett was released pending further investigation.
Broden released a statement saying Perry did not know a protest was taking place when he turned down Congress Avenue in downtown Austin and found himself surrounded by demonstrators. He alleged that protesters began banging on Perry’s car and that Garrett motioned for him to roll down his window before raising the barrel of his gun at him.
Broden said Perry shot Garrett in self-defense and that someone else in the crowd fired a gun at Perry’s car as he drove away. Broden released photos of the damage to Perry’s car that he claimed was caused by protesters, including an image of a bullet hole in the vehicle.
Austin police have not publicly confirmed Perry’s account of what transpired and said the shooting remains under investigation.
Fatal Seattle hit and run
Summer Taylor, 27, died from injuries suffered when a car plowed into Black Lives Matter demonstrators on July 4 on a Seattle freeway that had been shut down for days due to the civil unrest, police said. The incident also left another protester, Diaz Love, severely injured.
Surveillance video captured the 2013 Jaguar apparently speeding down the freeway, swerving around cars supporting the protest that were blocking the lanes and striking Taylor and Love, who were walking on the shoulder, knocking them into the air, over the roof of the vehicle and onto the pavement. Police said the driver kept going but was followed by a protester in a car, who forced him to stop.
The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27 — who has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault and reckless driving — allegedly entered the closed freeway at 1:40 a.m. by going the wrong way on an exit ramp, and drove at high speed toward a crowd of people protesting the police-involved death of Floyd, authorities said. Kelete, who is Black, was not participating in the protest.
His lawyer, John Henry Browne, called the incident a “horrible, horrible accident” and said, “there’s absolutely nothing political about this case whatsoever.” Police have not commented on whether they believe the incident was intentional.
Fatal shootings at Seattle’s protest zone
Lorenzo Anderson, 19, died after being shot June 20 in an area of downtown Seattle that had been taken over by protesters and called the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP) zone close to the city police department’s East Precinct. But police say Anderson’s death appears not to be related to the demonstrations over the death of Floyd.
Last month, King County prosecutors filed murder charges in the shooting against Marcel Levon Long and a $2 million warrant was issued for his arrest. Long has yet to be located, officials said.
Long was charged after investigators reviewed surveillance video allegedly showing the suspect and Anderson arguing, prosecutors said. Security video showed Long chasing Anderson with a gun, prosecutors said. At one point, according to prosecutors, several people occupying the CHOP zone tried to stop the suspect who they say broke free and ended up allegedly shooting Anderson multiple times.
The incident appears to be unrelated to the protests, police say, adding that a witness told investigators the shooting possibly stemmed from an old dispute between the men.
Another fatal shooting occurred near the CHOP zone on June 29 in which a 16-year-old boy police identified as Antonio Mays Jr. died after being shot while driving a Jeep. Police have yet to make an arrest in Mays’ killing and have not released a motive for the shooting but said they do not suspect it was linked to the ongoing protest.
The killings prompted authorities to clear the CHOP zone of camped-out protesters on July 1.
California protester killed by motorist
Robert Forbes, 56, died on June 6, three days after he was hit by a car during a protest in Bakersfield, California, according to the coroner’s office and police. Forbes was among protesters marching in a darkened roadway when he was struck by a driver, who claimed he didn’t see the protesters in the street until it was too late to avoid striking Forbes.
Police said the driver was not charged.
“There was no report of the driver accelerating or making movements to indicate he was targeting the pedestrian,” Bakersfield police said in a statement.
The driver later posted a message on Facebook, writing that the incident was not intentional.
“I did not and would not ever run into or hit anyone with my car,” he wrote.
Retired police captain fatally shot
Retired St. Louis Police Capt. David Dorn, 77, was fatally shot on June 2 in St. Louis when he went to investigate an alarm going off at a friend’s pawn shop and found a group of people looting the business, police said. When Dorn approached the shop, the suspect was walking to his car and holding a gun in his hand, police said in a statement citing surveillance video.
Stephan Cannon, 24, who was convicted of felony assault and robbery in St. Louis County in 2013, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
“At the time the shots were fired, (Cannon) was the only person standing at that corner,” according to a probable cause statement filed in the case that cited the surveillance video. “Multiple plumes of smoke” were also seen coming from where Cannon was standing, the statement said, and police said they found shell casings at the spot.
Dorn’s death came on a violent night in St. Louis in which numerous businesses were looted as protests over Floyd’s death were simultaneously occurring. But police and prosecutors have released no evidence that Cannon participated in the protests.
Dorn’s widow, Ann Dorn, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer, spoke at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last month in support of Trump’s reelection, saying, “violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest. President Trump understands this.”
Fatally shot by National Guard
David McAtee, 53, owner of a barbecue restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, was shot dead by a member of the Kentucky National Guard while in his own business during a night of protests on June 1, authorities said.
McAtee, described as a “pillar of our community” by his family’s attorney, was cooking in his restaurant, located miles from where protests were occurring in downtown Louisville over the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician fatally shot by police in her Louisville home. Police and National Guard troops responded to reports of a crowd gathering near McAtee’s eatery in violation of a curfew, said J. Michael Brown, secretary of the state’s executive Cabinet, who released preliminary findings of an investigation.
At least one police officer was seen on a surveillance video released by police officials shooting pepper balls at the restaurant where McAtee was inside with other people, and investigators say they suspect McAtee responded by allegedly firing a gun in the direction of police and guardsmen, Brown said. One of the guardsmen, armed with a rifle, returned fire, hitting McAtee in the chest as he stood in a doorway, Brown said.
The shooting prompted Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to fire police Chief Steve Conrad when he learned that the two police officers involved in the incident and who also returned fire failed to activate their body cameras.
No charges have been file in the case, which remains under investigation.
Air Force sergeant charged in fed agent’s death
Federal agent Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, was killed and his partner was wounded during an ambush shooting on May 29 as he guarded a federal building in Oakland, California, during protests that erupted over Floyd’s death, officials said.
Steven Carrillo, 32, an active-duty Air Force sergeant, and Richard Justus, 30, were arrested and charged with one count of federal murder and attempted murder, authorities said. Carrillo was also charged with murder in the June 6 shooting death of Santa Cruz County, California, Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38.
Federal prosecutors allege Carrillo and Justus are linked to an emerging movement called “boogaloo,” a term used by far-right extremists to signify a coming civil war and/or fall of civilization, according to federal court documents.
Carrillo and Justus have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During a speech at the RNC, Vice President Mike Pence invoked Underwood’s name, saying the federal agent “was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland” without mentioning Carrillo and Justus’ alleged involvement.
Prosecutors said Carrillo and Justus were not involved in the protests.
Allegedly shot dead by one-time family friend
Italia Kelly was hanging out of a car window chanting for justice along with other protesters on May 31 in Davenport, Iowa, when a man fatally shot her, police said. The 22-year-old woman’s family said they initially thought she was the target of a random shooting and her sister, Jasmine, said in a Facebook Live video shortly after the shooting, “A protester shot my sister.”
But when police arrested Parker Beltz, 21, and charged him with first-degree murder, Kelly’s family said they immediately recognized him.
“We were surprised. My other daughter, Italia’s sister, was best friends with him in middle school,” Kelly’s mother, Sharon Kelly, told ABC affiliate station WQAD-TV in Moline, Illinois. “We have a lot of photos of him with Italia, with other members of the family, with friends that we consider family.”
In a criminal complaint, Davenport police alleged Beltz committed the shooting “with premeditation, malice aforethought and intent to kill” and Kelly’s mother said Italia had been in a dispute with Beltz over Facebook posts. Beltz has yet to enter a plea.
Run over by FedEx truck at freeway protest
Barry Perkins was among a crowd of protesters who blocked a freeway in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 30 in a demonstration over George Floyd’s death when some people who appeared to be involved in the civil unrest were recorded on cell-phone video looting a FedEx tractor-trailer rig bogged down in traffic, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Perkins, 29, was killed by the truck when the driver suddenly accelerated, dragging Perkins underneath his rig, according to police. The driver told police he was unaware he struck someone and police ruled the incident an accident.
An attorney for Perkins’ family released a statement claiming Perkins was “peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd and was not looting when he was dragged” by the truck.
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