A man poses for photos in front of a fire at an AutoZone store, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. (Photo: AP)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man was shot to death as violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody rocked Minneapolis for a second straight night, with protesters looting stores near a police precinct and setting fires that continued to burn Thursday morning.
Police said they were investigating Wednesday night’s death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody, but were still investigating what led to the shooting.
Protesters began gathering in the early afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old George Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive.
News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, with some running in and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, fire erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it. Protesters set other fires in the street.
Officers could be seen surrounding the nearby precinct, not attempting to intervene in the looting.
Multiple fires burned early Thursday at buildings and smoke hung over the city. Fire crews worked to put out flames. Blocks of buildings with broken-out windows and other damage from looting were seen, and KSTP-TV reported that some people were seen going through buildings.
Police spokesman John Elder said officers responding to a reported stabbing near the protests found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Elder said a suspect was in custody but said the facts leading up to the shooting were “still being sorted out.”
It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander’s cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd ’s neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.
Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter. He also asked for the public’s help in keeping the peace.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for him to be criminally charged.
Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.
As the protests stretched into the evening, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm. In an interview with KMSP-TV, he noted the internal investigation as well as the FBI’s investigation of Floyd’s death and said they offer a chance at justice.
“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we’re seeing tonight, whether it’s the looting, the damage to property or other things,” he said.
Elder said officers from St. Paul, Metro Transit and the state patrol were helping police the area.
In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.