The family of a black man who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer has called for supporters protesting the killing to move on to "the next step," after five people were shot near the site of the days-long Black Lives Matter demonstration.
No one was seriously injured in the shooting late Monday.
It wasn't immediately clear who was behind the attack. A witness to the shooting, Oluchi Omeoga, reported seeing three strangers wearing masks among the protesters. Police said early Tuesday they are searching for three white male suspects.
The shootings took place about a block from the police department's 4th Precinct, where protesters have been demonstrating since the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, calling for the release of video documenting his death.
Police Department Spokesman John Elder said officers responded to the latest shooting around 10:40 p.m. and that dozens of officers assisted victims and secure the scene.
Omeoga, who has been participating in protests since last Monday, said the three masked people "weren't supposed to be there." The three strangers left the protest and a handful of protesters followed them to a street corner, where the masked men pulled out weapons and gunshots rang out, Omeoga said.
Mica Grimm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter who said she arrived on the scene soon after the shooting, said two people were shot in the leg, another in the arm and a fourth in the stomach. None suffered life-threatening injuries.
Clark's family, in a statement attributed to his brother Eddie Sutton and issued through U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's office, thanked protesters for "the incredible support" they have shown the family.
"But in light of tonight's shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step," the statement said.
Black Lives Matter had previously planned to announce "next steps" on Tuesday morning following a weekend meeting with community members about strategy.
Authorities have said Clark was shot during a struggle with police after he interfered with paramedics who were trying to assist an assault victim. But some people who said they saw the shooting allege Clark was handcuffed.
Protesters and Clark's family have been calling for investigators to release video of the shooting. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it has video from the ambulance, a mobile police camera and other sources, but none of it shows the event in its entirety. The agency, which is conducting a state investigation, said releasing the footage now would taint its investigation.
The group’s requests are not unusual, reports The Christian Science Monitor,and in fact, in a post-Ferguson era, police departments in some cities are trying a more proactive approach, including voluntarily releasing video when it supports their innocence, and even securing independent investigations of their own departments, to quell community anger and regain trust.
When there's a video that backs up what they say, I think that's an enhancement of the public trust," Iowa City Police Chief Sam Harga told the Associated Press recently. Officers in his department have recently started wearing body cameras.
Quickly releasing video goes against a policing tradition to keep details of an investigation out of the public domain until there’s a trial. But some jurisdictions, such as Boston, are attempting to be more transparent with the American public, which has grown increasingly skeptical of law enforcement in the aftermath of numerous shootings of unarmed, black men.
A federal criminal civil rights investigation is also underway to determine whether police intentionally violated Clark's civil rights through excessive force.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Chicago contributed to this report.