The man fatally shot at a protest against the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky has been identified as an avid photographer who had been a vocal supporter of the anti-racism demonstrations in the US state.
Police said Tyler Charles Gerth, 27, of Louisville, died after being shot at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville on Saturday night. A suspect, who has not yet been publicly identified, has since been taken into custody, they said.
The Courier Journal reported that Gerth was a budding photographer and graduate of the University of Kentucky who documented the weeks of protests for racial justice in Louisville on his Instagram account.
“Tyler was incredibly kind, tender hearted and generous, holding deep convictions and faith,” his family said in a statement, reported by the newspaper. “It was this sense of justice that drove Tyler to be part of the peaceful demonstrations advocating for the destruction of the systemic racism within our society’s systems. This, combined with his passion of photography led to a strong need within him to be there, documenting the movement, capturing and communicating the messages of peace and justice.”
Homicide investigators were interviewing the suspect, who had been hospitalised after the shooting, interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said at a news conference on Sunday.
In a video of the shooting shown during the news conference, the suspect was surrounded by several people before shots were fired and people scrambled for cover. Schroeder said the man had been participating in the protests since they began and had been arrested a few times.
“He had been repeatedly asked by other members at the park to leave due to his destructive behaviour,” Schroeder said.
Another video posted on social media later showed at least one person bleeding profusely on the ground.
Several other people fired gunshots after the suspect began firing, but no one else was hit, Fischer said.
“Whether they were there at the time of the shooting or not, I know the sadness of those who have been organising and participating in peaceful protests for racial justice. This is absolutely not what they wanted or any of us wanted,” Fischer said. “We cannot let one senseless act by one individual derail that dream, that vision that we have as a city.”
The shooting was at least the second during nearly a month of protests in Louisville over Taylor’s death.
Seven people were wounded May 28 when gunfire erupted near City Hall, prompting Taylor’s mother to issue a statement asking people to demand justice “without hurting each other.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed in her Louisville home in March by police who were serving a no-knock warrant. Protesters have been calling for the officers involved in her death to be charged. One of the officers was recently fired.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was originally charged with attempted murder after he fired a shot at one of the officers who came into the home. Walker has said he thought he was defending against an intruder.
The no-knock search warrant that allows police to enter without first announcing their presence was recently banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.
Several dozen people gathered on Sunday at Jefferson Square Park, which has been the epicentre of the continuing protests. A few Louisville police officers arrived to hand out flyers that said overnight camping and cooking were banned at the site, but protesters would be allowed to continue gathering during the day.
John Kriner knelt for nearly 30 minutes at the site to pray for peace. He said it was his first visit.
“I just want there to be peace and calm,” Kriner told The Associated Press news agency.