4 men face felony charges for shooting near 4th Precinct protest site

Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23, of Lakeville has been charged with five felony counts of second degree assault and one felony count of second-degree riot in connection with the shooting Nov. 23 near the 4th Precinct protest site that left five people injured.

Three other men also face felony charges in connection with the shooting — Joseph Martin Backman, 27, of Eagan; Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21, of Hermantown; and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26, of Pine City. They each face one felony count of second-degree riot.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced the charges Monday afternoon.

“This is the most serious crime we can charge under the circumstances,” Freeman said.

He said the victims’ injuries didn’t justify attempted murder charges. All of the shooting victims are black men, ages ranging from 19 to 43. 

Wes Martin, one of the five shooting victims, spoke at a press conference held by Black Lives Matter and the Minneapolis NAACP at the 4th Precinct after Freeman announced the charges. He was shot in the leg. 

“The night that I got shot, it was a dramatic change for me. … I could have died that night. I could have been in the grave right now,” he said, adding no investigators have talked to him about the shooting. “I hope [the suspects] get the maximum sentence.”

According to the criminal complaint, Scarsella called a police officer from a department outside the Twin Cities he knew around 1 a.m. on Nov. 24 and told him he had just shot five people.

Scarsella was arrested in Bloomington later on Nov. 24. Several guns and ammunition were recovered at the residence, including a 45 caliber handgun consistent with the type of discharged cartridge casings found at the shooting scene.

Officers also viewed contents of Scarsella’s cell phone revealing he was near the 4th Precinct on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23. It also contained many photos of Scarsella with guns and racist images. There were also numerous texts among Scarsella, Backman and Gustavsson setting up plans to go to the protest site on Nov. 23. 

Review of 4th Precinct surveillance video as well as video from private citizens shows the four suspects interacting with protesters immediately before the shooting, according to the complaint. The shooting, however, was not captured by video. 

Witnesses at the scene said the men were white supremacists who had been stalking demonstrators for days and boasted of their actions on social media.

In a YouTube video posted on Black Lives Matter’s Facebook page Nov. 19, two men identify themselves to viewers as “SaigaMarine” and “Black Powder Ranger” (who has been identified as Scarsella) while driving to the 4th Precinct site.

“We are locked and loaded,” SaigaMarine said, who later said “stay white” before ending the video.

Unicorn Riot, an alternative news site, interviewed witnesses of the shooting who said three men in masks approached the site and were confronted by protesters asking them to take their masks off. Later, they ran down the block and started opening fire on protesters. One protester was shot in the stomach, they said. Police later arrived and one officer started Macing the crowd, witnesses said. 

Minneapolis Police responded to 1400 Morgan Avenue North after hearing multiple shots fired in the area at 10:41 p.m., which is one block north of the 4th Precinct station. Three victims were transported to North Memorial Medical Center and two taken to HCMC. 

Bail has been set at $500,000 for Scarsella, according to Hennepin County Jail records. Backman, Gustavsson and Macey are each being held on $250,000 bail.