November 15, 2017 10:37 AM
Four men arrested in connection to a shooting near the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct have now been charged.
Twenty-three-year-old Allen "Lance" Scarsella of Lakeville is charged with one count of second-degree riot and five counts of second-degree assault.
The other suspects in the shooting were identified by police as 27-year-old Joseph Martin Backman of Eagan, 21-year-old Nathan Wayne Gustavsson of Hermantown, and 26-year-old Daniel Thomas Macey of Pine City. They are each charged with one count of second-degree riot.
The shooting happened at 10:40 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, near 14th Avenue North and Morgan Avenue North. The area is one block north of the 4th Precinct station at 1925 Plymouth Ave., where protesters have been stationed since the fatal officer-involved shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Eight shots were fired that night, and five men suffered non-life threatening injuries.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators learned that at least one of the suspects had gotten into an argument with the Black Lives Matter protesters on another occasion. Scarsella and an acquaintance were seen on surveillance video wearing camouflage and face masks at the precinct Nov. 19.
In an interview with police, the acquaintance said they went to the 4th Precinct that day to film protesters.
Investigators say they saw a video made by Scarsella and the acquaintance that day where they used derogatory terms and said they were going to do some “reverse cultural enriching” and “make the fire rise.” They ended the video with saying, “stay white,” according to the criminal complaint.
The acquaintance admitted to police that they made “inappropriate comments” to the protesters that day, sparking angry Internet posts on websites like Reddit and 4Chan.
A 4Chan email string showed participants talking about going to the Black Lives Matter protest to “stir things up” and “cause commotion,” according to the criminal complaint. The email string encouraged people to dress like protesters but to “feel free to carry.”
The acquaintance told police that he knew Scarsella and the other suspects were going to the protest on Nov. 23, but he decided to not go with them because he felt it would be dangerous. The acquaintance also told police that Scarsella called him later that night and said he had just shot five people.
The day after the shooting, investigators learned that a police officer from outside the Twin Cities had a personal relationship with Scarsella and that Scarsella had told him about the shooting. The officer encouraged Scarsella to turn himself into police, according to the complaint.
The officer also said Scarsella had “very intense opinions,” including opinions about being a sovereign citizen and pro-Constitution.
Investigators learned that Scarsella lived in Bloomington, and he was arrested there on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Police say they recovered “numerous” guns and ammunition, including a handgun that was consistent with the one used at the 4th Precinct.
If convicted, Scarsella faces up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines on the riot charge and up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines on each assault charge.
Backman, Gustavsson and Macey each face up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines on the riot charge.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Monday that while elements of the allegations fit the definition of a hate crime, the felony charges he filed against the four men carry tougher potential sentences than any kind of hate crime-related charge he could bring. Freeman noted it is possible that federal charges could be brought.
Scarsella is being held on $500,000 bail, while the others are being held on $250,000 bail, according to the Hennepin County Jail roster. All will make their first court appearances at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was able to reach the attorneys representing two of the suspects.
An attorney for Backman said that the evidence will show his client's actions in no way threatened or harmed anyone, that Backman's relationship to the other defendants is "tenuous at best," and that Backman is not a white supremacist. He added Backman plans to enter a not guilty plea.
An attorney for Macey said his client is not a white supremacist in any way, shape or form, and that Macey also plans to enter a not guilty plea.
Jennie Lissarrague & Stephen Tellier
Updated: November 15, 2017 10:37 AM
Created: November 30, 2015 12:27 PM
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