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A group of activists traveling to a Black Lives Matter march in Washington, D.C., has been linked to two shooting incidents in Pennsylvania in less than 24 hours, police and media reports say.
The first incident unfolded late Monday night after authorities say they were contacted by a property owner regarding a group of people congregating in a private business parking lot in Juniata Township.
“Troopers later learned the group was comprised of approximately 30 activists who are traveling on foot and in vehicles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Washington, D.C.,” state police said in a statement. “At approximately 11:35 p.m. at the same location and before state police arrival, the property owners confronted the activists. The confrontation escalated, and gunshots were exchanged between the property owners and the activists.”
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Police said one activist was “struck by birdshot from a shotgun” and later was treated and released from a local hospital.
Investigators at the scene say they recovered a shotgun, shotgun shells, a semi-automatic pistol and 9-mm casings – but did not provide details on who fired at whom, pending an ongoing investigation.
“They were asked to leave and they didn’t leave,” State Police Troop G Commander Capt. Jamie Clark said Tuesday when asked what had sparked the confrontation, according to The Tribune-Democrat newspaper.
“We were just in a circle congregating,” Leena Le, a Milwaukee resident and group member, told the newspaper. “This man on this porch just stared at us, telling us to get out."
“We were about to start marching, and we saw a guy coming down the street and he shot into the air,” she added. “Then he aimed at the walkers, and that’s when everyone started rushing to their cars, trying to take shelter.”
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Another witness and group spokesman, Frank Nitty, told The Tribune-Democrat that a second man had yelled a racial slur at the marchers, who have been traveling more than 30 miles on foot each day.
State Police said Tuesday they were questioning two individuals at a barracks in Bedford in relation to the shooting, but did not identify them.
The second incident reportedly involving the group happened Tuesday night at a hotel where some of them were staying in the Bedford area.
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Police responded to a “shots fired” call there around 7:30 p.m., although no one was injured, The Tribune-Democrat reports.
A State Police spokesperson told the newspaper that the incidents appear to be unrelated.
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