Three members of an armed militia were shot in an apparent accident at a protest calling for justice for Breonna Taylor in Louisville on Saturday afternoon.
The three people, all members of the NFAC, suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to the Louisville Metro Police Department. The shooter was also a member of the militia.
The group’s founder, John “Grand Master Jay” Johnson, told ABC News that members of the militia were inspecting firearms prior to the demonstration when a woman’s weapon was accidentally discharged. Johnson referred to the woman as a trainee.
“Today, shortly before 1:00 pm, three people were struck by gunfire as the result of a discharge of someone’s gun who was participating in the NFAC demonstration at Baxter Park,” Louisville Metro’s interim Chief of Police Robert Schroeder said in a statement. “Louisville Division of Fire and LMEMS arrived a short time later and transported all three victims to the University of Louisville Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. All involved are members of the NFAC and there are no outstanding suspects.”
The police said the investigation into the shooting was ongoing.
“This is a tragic situation that could have been much worse,” Schroeder added. “I encourage anyone choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights to do so responsibly.”
Louisville police released surveillance footage of the shooting that showed dozens of members of the NFAC milling around the park prior to the march when the gun accidentally discharged and a few people dropped to the ground injured.
Johnson would not comment on the group’s vetting process for those who took part in the armed march.
“I believe that everyone should exercise the utmost responsibility when handling firearms, but then again, we’re dealing with humans who make mistakes,” Johnson told ABC News.
The NFAC, which is short for “Not F——- Around Coalition,” was marching in military-style fatigues and carrying semi-automatic weapons in order to call attention to the fatal police shooting of Taylor in March. Johnson said about 2,500 armed and 300 unarmed militia members took part in the march.
The 26-year-old EMT was killed in her own home when police executed a “no-knock” warrant searching for a drug trafficker. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire on police believing that someone was breaking into the house. Taylor was struck by gunfire at least eight times when police returned fire.
For months, protesters have been calling for the three officers who were involved in the shooting to be arrested and charged. The protests gained in intensity following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
Officer Brett Hankison was fired last month for violating procedure when he shot Taylor.
Louisville police had said they were ready for demonstrations in the city on Saturday and shut down roads as a precaution to allow the NFAC members and others to march.
“LMPD remains committed to peaceful expression of views under the First Amendment. As we have done for several weeks, there will be no need for police intervention as long as there is no threat to public safety,” the police said in a statement Friday. “We will not tolerate the barricading of streets by non-law enforcement, impeding traffic, or attempting to threaten or force people not involved in the protests from their intended destination.”
Counterprotesters, a far-right militia called the Three Percenters, also appeared at Saturday’s protest.