By BILL HUTCHINSON and WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(MINNEAPOLIS) — Violence erupted in Minneapolis overnight when protesters took to the streets, some looting and vandalizing businesses, after social media posts wrongly claimed officers fatally shot a Black man who police alleged died by suicide following his involvement in a homicide.
At least six people were arrested when the civil unrest took an ugly turn in the city where a national wave of protests began in May with the killing of George Floyd.
The Minneapolis Police Department took a rare step Wednesday night of immediately releasing surveillance video of the suspect allegedly shooting himself at a shopping mall with several members of the public nearby.
The video was released, according to police officials, because many community residents took to the streets believing social media reports that the suspect was shot in the head by police.
“This evening, a murder suspect committed suicide as police approached them at 8th & Nicollet,” the Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement accompanying the surveillance video. They warned, “contains graphic images.”
“No officer weapons were fired,” the statement went on. “This is a tragedy for our community that is still hurting. Our condolences go to the families of the victims.”
The incident followed three days of violent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that spread to several other U.S. cities after cellphone video captured a police officer there shoot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, multiple times in the back in front of three of his six children.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz mobilized about 150 State Patrol troopers to respond to Minneapolis to restore order.
“Minneapolis, it’s time to heal,” Walz said in a message posted on Twitter. “We must rebuild and recover. Dangerous, unlawful behavior will not be tolerated.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded to the governor on Twitter, saying, “The unrest must stop and the healing must start.”
During a news conference Wednesday night, Frey said the city has requested help from the National Guard to restore calm to the city, which saw days of looting, vandalism and confrontations with police in the aftermath of Floyd’s May 25 death in which an officer was caught on cellphone video digging his knee into Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly cried out “I can’t breathe” and called for his dead mother.
Minneapolis, it’s time to heal. We must rebuild and recover. Dangerous, unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. The State Patrol is headed to Minneapolis to help restore order. I remain in close contact with the city and every state resource stands ready to help bring peace.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) August 27, 2020
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js “What our city needs right now is healing,” Frey said, adding that a 72-hour citywide state of emergency and curfew would go into effect at 10 p.m. Thursday and run through 6 a.m. on Friday.
The mayor said he requested the National Guard to help restore peace to the city.
We have mobilized approximately 150 troopers — including our Mobile Field Force, Special Response Team and all available metro area state troopers — to restore order in #Minneapolis.
— MN State Patrol (@MnDPS_MSP) August 27, 2020
“We do not need more destruction. We do not need more property damage,” Frey said. “That is unacceptable in every way, shape and form and I want to be very clear, it will not be tolerated.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo also appeared at the news conference and pleaded with protesters in the downtown area to go home.
“This was not an officer-related incident,” Arradondo said. “But we’re compounding more tragedy by the destruction and folks wanting to do harm to our communities and to our downtown sector this evening. I will not allow … more trauma to a city that’s still grieving from May 25.”
Soldiers from the @MNNationalGuard 257th Military Police Company are assisting local law enforcement in protecting property and ensuring the safety of MPLS residents. We are working in coordination with the @CityMinneapolis and the @MinneapolisPD at the direction of @GovTimWalz. pic.twitter.com/0zDpylZfQS
— MN National Guard (@MNNationalGuard) August 27, 2020
The chaotic night in Minneapolis began on Wednesday afternoon when police responded to a fatal shooting and began searching for a man and a woman suspected of being involved in the homicide and fled the scene on foot, police said. Officers were able to obtain from witnesses descriptions of the suspects and the female suspect was quickly located.
Around 6 p.m., police said the male suspect was spotted by officers outside the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. As officers approached the suspect, he produced a handgun and shot himself in the head, police said.
“He appears to have seen officers approaching. He turned into a doorway of a building, produced a handgun, put it up underneath his chin. He then adjusted his stance, and shot himself underneath the chin closer to where it meets the neck,” John Elder Elder, a Minneapolis police spokesperson, told ABC Minneapolis affiliate station KSTP-TV.
Elder said people began to livestream to social media false information that officers had shot the suspect in the head, prompting protesters to take to the streets and wreaking havoc.
The video, captured by a surveillance camera owned by the city, shows a man dressed in a white T-shirt and dark ball cap and wearing a black backpack walk past a group of people who scattered as he pulled a weapon and shot himself.
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