A Louisville man has been arrested for allegedly shooting and killing a demonstrator at a peaceful protest in the park many are calling to be renamed in honor of Breonna Taylor.
Steven Nelson Lopez was reportedly squatting in Jefferson Square Park when he was asked to move away from demonstrators about 9 p.m. Saturday. Lopez then fired a gun into the crowd, Louisville Metro Police said. Tyler Gerth was shot in the head and died.
Lopez has been been charged with one count of murder and one count of wanton endangerment in the first degree.
“My deepest sympathy goes out to the family of Tyler Gerth, a fellow Trinity grad. Our thoughts are also with those who were present & those who've been organizing peaceful protests for racial justice. Our city's commitment to the path of justice will continue,” Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted Sunday.
The suspect was identified by multiple witnesses and was allegedly caught on video surveillance shooting the handgun into the crowd, according to police. Lopez showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life and creating a substantial danger of death or serious injury to others,” cops said.
Some in the crowd opened fire in response, hitting Lopez in the leg. He was taken custody at the scene and transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is expected to recover.
Jefferson Park is situated in a major judicial district of the city, near the halls of justice, city hall, metro corrections, and the commonwealth attorney office. It is also where local peaceful protesters have been gathering to demand justice for Taylor. Around the park are monuments to the city’s police and firefighters.
Earlier this month, community organizer Christopher 2X of 2X Game Changers, Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and Councilwoman Barabra Sexton, pushed to have a section of the park named in Taylor’s honor.
“Unfortunately, this city is going to have to deal with the advocacy for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor and the violent crimes of this city,” 2X told Inside Edition Digital. “Breonna was a true first responder as an ER tech and EMT. She came upon some wounded by violent shootings and fatally taken by violent shootings and this is not going to take away from naming the park in her honor.”
Taylor was killed March 13, when cops opened fire into her Louisville apartment as they executed a “no-knock” warrant in search of drugs. The cops involved in the incident have not been arrested or charged. One officer was fired, while two have been reassigned.
On Sunday, Mayor Greg Fischer and the LMPD issued a curfew at the park. Starting at 11 p.m., police said the would remove citizens from the area.