A photographer who was sympathetic to Black Lives Matter and who had been documenting protests in Louisville, Kentucky, was shot and killed in a protest camp Saturday night when one protester fired into the camp, allegedly due to a conflict with another protester, the Courier Journal reported.
Tyler Gerth, 27, was reportedly shot in the face as an innocent bystander when Steven Nelson Lopez showed up at the protest camp and fired his gun into the air before shooting into the camp. Other armed bystanders returned fire at Lopez, shooting him in the leg and preventing further potential casualties.
Lopez had been a participant in the Louisville protests for at least the previous 12 days, having been sighted there multiple times by protesters and reporters. He has been charged with murder and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Other protesters said Lopez had been escorted away from the camp multiple times leading up to the Saturday night shooting after getting into altercations. Lopez had previously been arrested on June 17 for inciting a riot and disorderly conduct. He was armed with two fully loaded handguns at the time of his previous arrest.
A witness recorded video of Lopez shooting into the crowd on Saturday.
Gerth was a photographer who regularly posted pictures of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of Louisville Metro Police. He was apparently not the target of Lopez’s attack on the protest camp.
“Tyler was incredibly kind, tender-hearted and generous, holding deep convictions and faith,” Gerth’s family wrote in a statement. “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.”
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