The Louisville man charged Saturday night with the shooting of a photographer had been arrested previously for rioting during the recent demonstrations over the killing of Breonna Taylor.
Steven Lopez, 23, is facing charges of murder and first-degree wanton endangerment, Louisville officials said in a Sunday press conference. Mayor Greg Fischer said Lopez was part of a crowd camping out in Jefferson Square, but had been asked to leave earlier by other protesters due to “disruptive behavior.”
Police chief Robert Schroeder added that Lopez had been arrested “a couple of times” in the past several weeks.
Lopez was shot in the leg after some in the crowd returned fire and remains at University of Louisville Hospital in custody. Police records show he was arrested on June 17 for inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment, and buying/possessing drug paraphernalia. The citation noted that Lopez was in possession of a handgun “with two full mags of ammo” at the time of the arrest. After being released, Lopez was arrested again on June 19 for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
Video footage shows Lopez firing multiple times into the park, resulting in the death of Louisville resident Tyler Gerth, 27, who was shot in the head. Gerth was a photographer who had been documenting the protests for weeks. “I do not believe he was targeting the man that he hit,” Mitchell said.
Camping in Jefferson Square Park is prohibited by the city, but had not been enforced to allow protesters to “come together to demand change,” Amy Hess, chief of public services said. Following the shooting, protestors will no longer be allowed to camp out.
“We just felt the situation that culminated with last night’s shooting has become too dangerous to allow this type of activity to continue any longer,” Hess explained. “It’s a safety issue at this point.”