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Man accused of shooting 5 protesters faces stiffer charge

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The man accused of shooting five protesters outside the Fourth Police Precinct in north Minneapolis last month now faces more serious charges.

Hennepin County prosecutors filed a new charge of first-degree assault Tuesday against Allen Scarsella, 23, of Lakeville, the Star Tribune reports. He was in court Tuesday morning asking a judge to reduce his bail, which is now set at $500,000.

Scarsella and three other men were charged in connection with the shooting, which occurred Nov. 23 near 14th Avenue and Morgan Avenue N., about one block from the police station. Scarsella has been identified as the one who shot and wounded five protesters that night.

A large group of demonstrators had been camping outside the precinct after the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark by a police officer on Nov. 15. They claim Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, but police officers deny that.

According to the criminal complaints, the four suspects went there to disrupt the demonstration for racial reasons; they’ve been described by protesters as white supremacists.

The shooting occurred after a group of protesters challenged the men and tried to get them to leave, the complaint said. The five victims suffered non-life threatening injuries. 

Scarsella was originally charged with five counts of second-degree assault and one count of rioting. But one of the victims, who was shot in the abdomen and has had multiple surgeries, persuaded the county attorney's office to file the more serious charge, according to the Star Tribune.

Lower bail denied

In court Tuesday, Scarsella's attorney asked the judge to lower his client's bail, arguing he has strong ties to the community, according to WCCO. But prosecutors argued the Scarsella is a danger to public safety because he brought a loaded gun to the protest.

The judge denied the request and Scarsella remains in jail on $500,000 bond. His next court appearance is Jan. 6.

The other three defendants are each charged with one count of rioting.

The men have not been charged with hate crimes. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said prosecutors considered filing hate crime charges, but the charges announced earlier this month carry heftier sentences.

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