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County attorney: Suspects in attack on protesters are 'sick people'

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The Hennepin County Attorney is referring to the men accused of shooting #Justice4Jamar protesters as "sick people," and said he considers the attack racially motivated.

In a strongly-worded statement sent out Friday, Mike Freeman refers to Allen Scarsella as a "white supremacist," and confirmed a new charge of first-degree assault was going to be filed against him.

"There is no doubt that the attack by the four was racially motivated," Freeman said. "The defendants' own statements, their videos, show that these are sick people. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but the language they use, and what they say about fellow Americans, citizens, are just not acceptable."

The charges

Scarsella, 23, of Lakeville, is accused of shooting five people near the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct on Nov. 23, during a protest against the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark by police.

Three other men said to have been with him at the time – Joseph Martin Backman, 27, of Eagan, Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 22, of Hermantown and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26, of Pine City – have each been charged with one count of second-degree riot-armed with a dangerous weapon.

Scarsella was initially charged with second-degree assault, but this was replaced with first-degree after it emerged one of the victims, 19-year-old Tevin King, has a bullet in his abdomen that is so close to major arteries that it can't be removed, the county attorney said.

The criminal complaint notes a video uploaded to YouTube appears to feature Scarsella and another man on their way to the protest a few days before the shooting on Nov. 19, in which they make racist comments. The video ends with one of them saying, "Stay white."

Investigators also found an email string on the 4Chan website in which the participants discussed going to the protest to "stir things up" and "cause commotion."

There had been calls for the attackers to be charged with hate crimes, but Freeman said they decided against doing that as it would carry lighter sentences than the ones with which they've been charged.

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County attorney: Suspects in attack on protesters are 'sick people'

"There is no doubt that the attack by the four was racially motivated," Freeman said.

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Five people were injured in the shooting, which happened during demonstrations following Jamar Clark's death.