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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

By David Bailey and Todd Melby

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – Minneapolis police said on Tuesday they have arrested a 23-year-old white man and a 32-year-old Hispanic man over the shooting of five people near a city police station where demonstrators have gathered for more than a week to protest the killing of an unarmed black man by officers.

The younger suspect was arrested around 11:20 a.m. CST (1720 GMT) in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, while the older man was arrested in his vehicle about 45 minutes later in south Minneapolis, police said.

“As I said before, we are sparing no efforts to bring any and all those responsible to justice,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said after the second arrest. In an earlier statement, she said she abhorred the attack on the demonstrators.

Authorities said they will release the suspects’ names after charges are filed and the search for additional suspects continues. Police declined to say whether they were looking for one or more additional suspects.

A spokesman said the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office was aware of the arrests and was waiting for a case to be presented for consideration.

Police earlier said they were looking for three white male suspects in the shooting late on Monday. It occurred a block from the police station where protests have been held since the fatal Nov. 15 shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, Minneapolis police said in a statement.

None of the wounds in the Monday shooting were life-threatening, and the wounded were taken to hospitals.

Miski Noor, representing Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, said on Tuesday that four men wearing masks approached the site where demonstrators have been encamped protesting Clark’s killing. When the masked men wouldn’t identify themselves, they were escorted away but about half a block from there they opened fire on the demonstrators.

Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis Division, said on Tuesday that the FBI was aware of the incident, was coordinating with the Minneapolis force and would determine whether federal action was appropriate.

He declined to say whether the FBI was investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.

Clark’s brother, Eddie Sutton, said in a statement that in light of the shootings, his family believed the demonstrations at the police station should end “out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers.”

Hundreds of protesters marched in a Black Lives Matter rally on Tuesday afternoon from the police station toward city hall in downtown Minneapolis. Activists said the shooting has not shaken the group’s resolve.

“We will not bow to fear or intimidation,” Black Lives Matter’s Noor said at the rally.

Pastor Danny Givens Jr. of Above Every Name Church said the demonstrators would not be scared away.

“We ain’t going nowhere,” he said, using a bullhorn. “This is our precinct.

“We ain’t scared of domestic terrorists,” added Givens, who is the clergy liaison for Black Lives Matter.

Questions have been raised as to whether Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have denied. Protesters have demanded that authorities release videos of the Nov. 15 incident.

Clark died the next day from a gunshot wound to the head. The officers involved are on leave.

Earlier on Monday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he reviewed video footage taken from the back of an ambulance and said it does not appear to show conclusively what happened in Clark’s shooting.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Clark’s shooting as is the FBI, which said the release of videos and other evidence would be detrimental to the investigation.

Hennepin County prosecutors will present the Clark shooting case to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges when the investigation is complete, a spokesman said.

Authorities have said there was no video of the shooting from police dashboard or body cameras, but investigators are reviewing video from business and security cameras in the area, as well as witnesses’ cellphones.

A police union representative has said Clark grabbed one officer’s gun, although the weapon remained in its holster.

Clark’s shooting comes at a time of heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. Over the past year, protests against killings of unarmed black men and women – some videotaped with phones or police cameras – have rocked a number of U.S. cities.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Bill Rigby, G Crosse and Alan Crosby)

Photo: An activist holds a “Black Lives Matter” signs outside the Minneapolis Police Fourth Precinct building following the officer-involved shooting of Jamar Clark on November 15, 2015.  (Tony Webster via Flickr)