Shots were fired near the South Carolina State House in downtown Columbia, S.C. shortly before 4:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday afternoon as violent protests rocked the Palmetto State capital in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It is not immediately clear who fired the shots, but multiple witnesses confirmed hearing the gunfire – which occurred amid a tense standoff between protesters and police following a peaceful gathering on the grounds of the S.C. State House.
Sources familiar with the situation said at least one suspect fired a weapon in connection with the unrest. It is not immediately clear whether anyone was injured in the shooting – although initial reports indicate no one was harmed.
The shooter was taken into custody, police chief Skip Holbrook confirmed at a Saturday afternoon press conference.
Meanwhile, officers of the Columbia, S.C. police department were pelted with bricks, water bottles and rocks during a standoff outside of police headquarters at the corner of Washington and Lincoln streets – approximately three blocks away from the capital complex.
Four police officers were injured during the melee, Holbrook told reporters – including one who was “seriously injured.”
Reporter Miranda Parnell of WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) was among those struck by flying projectiles. Parnell tweeted a video after the incident showing blood dripping down the side of her face from where she was struck.
“We gonna have to call it a day here,” Parnell said.
“A person wearing a MAGA hat showed up at the rally, protestors confronted that person (and) then rocks were thrown … one of them hitting Miranda,” Gatson tweeted.
Police confirmed a “mob assault” took place involving a Trump supporter during the protest.
Numerous businesses in downtown Columbia – including the popular Blue Marlin restaurant – were ransacked and looted during the unrest.
Rioters chanting “No Justice, No Peace” also damaged multiple law enforcement vehicles during the confrontation. City of Columbia police cars were spray-painted – then set on fire.
Our sources captured the conflagration on video …
(Click to view)
Prior to the cars being torched, rioters spray-painted the acronym “ACAB” on one of the vehicles – which stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Demonstrators also tore down the American and South Carolina flags from poles outside of police headquarters, setting fire to the former and ripping apart the latter.
According to our sources, a contingent of state law enforcement officers arrived on the scene Saturday afternoon to provide backup to city police – who have been chronically understaffed for years thanks to Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin. Among the assets dispatched? A special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
“SLED agents are ready to assist any law enforcement agency across the state with whatever resources are available to help maintain law and order,” agency spokesman Tommy Crosby told us.
(Click to view)
The violence followed a protest march that began at City Hall and proceeded six blocks south to the S.C. State House before making its way to police headquarters. A second demonstration – led by the neo-Marxist Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) – was scheduled for Saturday afternoon but organizers called the event off in the wake of the escalating violence in downtown Columbia.
The confrontation comes less than a week after Floyd – a 46-year-old security guard – died after being detained by police on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20.00 bill. Derek Chauvin – the 44-year-old Minneapolis police officer who was captured on video suffocating Floyd while the latter was laying face-down, handcuffed on the pavement – was formally charged with third degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death on Friday.
Benjamin blamed the violence in Columbia on “outsiders” and imposed a 6:00 p.m. EDT curfew on the city.
UPDATE || More on the violence …
UPDATE 2 || National guard getting involved …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.