Louisville Metro Police responded to reports of gunshots at Jefferson Square Park, which has been the central location for the ongoing protests in support of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. On June 27, at around 9:35 p.m. local time, LMPD spokesman Lamont Washington confirmed to the Courier-Jornal, “We are currently working an active police situation at Jefferson Square Park.”
Video of the horrifying incident during which two people were shot, one fatally, was captured on camera and shared on Twitter. On Sunday, the Deputy Coroner Jerry Zhender identified Tyler Gerth, 27, as the victim who died.
Mayor Greg Fischer identified the shooter as Steven Nelson Lopez, who’s currently hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his leg. He’s being charged with one count of murder and one count of wanton endangerment in the first degree.
In the video shared on Twitter, people attending the protest can be seen running from the square, hiding, laying down on the ground, and diving behind vehicles.
WARNING: The following video may be disturbing for viewers and contains footage and sounds of multiple rounds of gunfire.
CONTENT WARNING: This video of today’s shooting at Jefferson Square Park was pulled from the FB livestream of one of Louisville’s more vocal protesters. Absolutely horrifying to see. To my friends, coworkers and anybody else down there, please be vigilant. Please be safe. pic.twitter.com/AT8PiOIKrG
— John Boyle (@JBernardBoyle) June 28, 2020
Another video was shared by a man named Isiah Collins, who was standing near the back of the park when the shots went off, according to WHAS 11 reporter Jessie Cohen.
— Jessie Cohen (@jessiecohennews) June 28, 2020
Later on, police vehicles surrounded Jefferson Square Park. Officers in riot gear were seen entering the area where the shooting took place near 6th and Jefferson.
— Not Ben Tobin (@Billy_Kobin) June 28, 2020
It has not yet been confirmed if any of the injured victims have died from their wounds. As reported by WDRB, emergency workers putting a victim onto a stretcher and into an ambulance. By 9:45 p.m., Jefferson Square Park was completely blocked off by police.
Tyler Gerth, An Aspiring Photographer, Died During the Shooting
Just about 9 p.m., there were reports of shots fired in Jefferson Square Park. Calls then came in that Sheriff’s Department personnel were in the park performing life-saving measures on a male who eventually died at the scene.
— LMPD (@LMPD) June 28, 2020
LMPD confirmed that one victim, Tyler Gerth, died from injuries sustained on Saturday night. As reported by the Courier-Journal, where Gerth’s godfather, Joe Gerth, works as a columnist, the 27-year-old had become a vocal activist amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. The Louisville local had graduated from Trinity High School before earning his degree at University of Kentucky.
LMPD tweeted their report of what happened leading up to Gerth’s death. They wrote, “Just about 9 p.m., there were reports of shots fired in Jefferson Square Park. Calls then came in that Sheriff’s Department personnel were in the park performing life-saving measures on a male who eventually died at the scene.”
“A short time later, we got a report of another shooting victim at the Hall of Justice,” LMPD continued. “That person was taken to University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers cleared the park completely and have secured the entire area so homicide detectives can conduct their investigation.”
“Detectives are trying to gather as much information as possible in order to identify all who were involved in the incident. The park will remain closed for the next several hours. We will provide an update in the morning as more information becomes available. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 574-LMPD.”
Video shared Twitter showed protestors taking a moment of silence for “the man who lost his life.”
Witnesses Reported That Lopez to Leave the Protest Returned With a Gun & Started Shooting
#BREAKING: Shots FIRED at Jefferson Square Park. We’re unsure what happened and if there are any injuries. We’re working to find out more info. This is the central location where people meet to protest for #BreonnaTaylor @WLKY pic.twitter.com/kXp4mB2ahH
— Shaquille Lord (@ShaqWLKY) June 28, 2020
WAVE 3 News reporter Phylicia Ashley tweeted, “Fatal shooting reported at Jefferson Square Park. Another person injured. Still waiting to get updates and details from #lmpd. Witness videos allege a man was asked to leave the memorial and protest space then came back with a gun and started shooting into the crowd.”
During a press conference on Sunday, Fischer confirmed that Lopez had been camping at Jefferson Square Park and that he was asked to leave the premises due to “disruptive behavior” on the day of the shooting.
Lopez has previously been arrested twice in the past two weeks, once for inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment and possessing drugs on June 17. Lopez was arrested again two days later for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
Fischer tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by the violence that erupted in Jefferson Square Park tonight, where those who have been voicing their concerns have been gathered. It is a tragedy that this area of peaceful protest is now a crime scene. My thanks to the first responders who assisted at the scene.”
Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroder said at a news conference that the suspected short has been arrested, hospitalized, and interviewed by homicide detectives.