The group was fired upon the next night in a hotel parking lot
Black Lives Matter protesters on a march from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., for the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech exchanged gunfire with Pennsylvania property owners Monday night — and one of the protesters was treated and released from a hospital after being hit by shotgun fire.
State police didn’t say who fired first in the incident, which took place in Juniata Township, Bedford County, WTAE-TV reported, but no charges have been filed.
What are the details?
State police said a property owner contacted authorities just after 11 p.m. about a group of people in a private business parking lot, and troopers later learned about 30 activists had been traveling on foot and in vehicles from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., the station said.
About 11:35 p.m. at the same location — and prior to police arrival — the property owners confronted the activists, police added, according to WTAE. One police official told reporters that “he had asked them to leave, and they wouldn’t leave.”
Police said things escalated, and gunshots were exchanged between the property owners and the activists, the station said, adding that one of the activists was hit by birdshot from a shotgun, after which he was treated and released from a Johnstown hospital.
A shotgun, shotgun shells, a semi-automatic pistol, and 9mm casings were recovered at the scene, police added, according to WTAE.
Marcher Tory Lowe said the group had parked to organize before they walked up an incline when a man emerged from a house and started shooting at them with a rifle, firing at least seven shots, the station said, citing a Facebook video posted early Tuesday morning.
“He was like three feet away from us shooting, and I told him there was a minister here,” Lowe said in the video, WTAE reported.
The group began marching Aug. 4 and planned to arrive in Washington by Friday, the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the station said, citing a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
A WTAJ-TV broadcast referred to the group as affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
In a separate incident a day later, a man was charged with discharging a firearm in the parking lot of a Bedford County hotel where the protesters were staying, authorities told the Cumberland Times-News.
Counter-protesters arrived at the Hampton Inn around 8:30 p.m., and an argument followed, the paper said, adding that a hotel official heard the argument and asked counter-protesters to leave. As they drove away, gunshots were heard, the Times-News said, citing a criminal complaint.
Since one of the activists reportedly livestreamed the incident on Facebook, troopers were able to identify vehicles — and troopers said they later stopped a 1988 Ford truck, in which Jeremy William Decker was the passenger, the paper said.
State police in Bedford charged Decker, 43, with reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, and firearms violations, the Times-News said, adding that authorities seized multiple firearms, including a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, and that six 9mm shell casings were found at the shooting scene.
One member of the group headed to D.C. reported seeing Decker “fire several rounds in the air” through the open window of a truck before leaving the scene, the paper said, adding that Decker is a convicted felon whose online criminal records show felony assault and burglar — and that he’s prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Hours before the hotel shooting, a group showed up at the Bedford County Courthouse, reportedly in response to the Milwaukee activists being in the area, the Times-News said, adding that troopers didn’t say if Decker was part of that group.
Decker was arraigned by District Judge Kathy Calhoun, of Everett, and lodged in the Bedford County Jail, the paper said.
Blocking highway traffic
Three members of the same group were arrested last week after “intentionally obstructing vehicular traffic” on US 30, WTAJ-TV said in a separate report, citing Indiana State Police, adding that US 30 is a divided four-lane highway with a 60 mph speed limit.
Police said they received calls last Wednesday about traffic backed up for several miles in the eastbound lanes of US 30, and arriving troopers saw protesters walking along the highway with eight support vehicles traveling at walking speed in the right lane, the station said. At times pedestrians walked in the car lane instead of the shoulder, WTAJ said.
Police said they told the group they could continue marching as long as both pedestrians and vehicles traveled in the highway shoulder — but the group failed to comply, the station said, adding that traffic became backed up for about seven miles.
Frank David Sensabaugh, 30, Eric Ajala, 20, and Tory Lowe, 44 — all from Milwaukee — were arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and obstruction of traffic charges, WTAJ said, adding that Lowe also was charged for misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. All three were taken to the Kosciusko County Jail, the station said, and later released.
Lowe — cited in the WTAE shooting story — livestreamed the incident on Facebook, WTAJ said.
Author: Dave Urbanski