One of two protesters injured after a car drove into a crowd of peaceful protesters on Seattle’s Interstate 5 (I-5) early Saturday morning has died, authorities say.
Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old Seattle resident, died at Harborview Medical Center in the evening, a spokesperson said to the Associated Press. The second victim, 32-year-old Diaz Love of Portland, Ore., is in serious condition and is being treated in an intensive care unit, per the AP.
On Friday, the Seattle Police Department closed I-5 at 11:56 p.m. PT for peaceful protesters, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said during a press conference Saturday morning. At around 1:40 a.m., Dawit Kelete of Seattle drove a passenger car into the crowd and struck Taylor and Love, according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol and viewed by the AP.
Love had been livestreaming a video on Facebook for about two hours when people started shouting “Car!” according to the AP. Another video shows the car, a white Jaguar, swerving around several parked cars set up to protect the protesters and striking two people, throwing them back.
The driver fled after striking the protesters, but another protester hopped in a car and chased him for a mile, Trooper Chase Van Cleave said to the AP. The protester pulled his car in front of the Jaguar and stopped the driver from getting away. Troopers then arrived and arrested him, Mead said, according to the AP.
While police do not know how the driver entered the freeway, Mead said they suspect he drove up the wrong way onto an exit ramp and entered the southbound lane of I-5, as he did not go through any of the closure points set up by police. The driver sped around a series of vehicles set up by the protesters to protect themselves and drove into the shoulder of the freeway where a group of protesters were standing, Mead said.
Kelete is facing two counts of vehicular assault, and was denied bail, according to the AP. A judge will consider if he can be released on bail in a second court hearing on Monday, court documents viewed by the AP said.
Protesters will no longer be allowed on I-5, and will be arrested on the freeway, the Washington State Patrol said Sunday, according to the AP.
“My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple,” Mead said, according to the AP.
The driver’s motive was unknown as of Saturday morning, according to Mead, but the investigation is still ongoing. However, police did say they do not believe the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Trooper Rick Johnson tweeted a photo of the suspect’s car Saturday morning.
Here are two pictures of the suspect vehicle that struck two protesters on I-5 this morning. Investigation into motive and point of entry in to I-5 are still under investigation. pic.twitter.com/gU1QH6TFTu
— Trooper Rick Johnson (@wspd2pio) July 4, 2020
Protests against systemic racism and police brutality have taken place throughout Seattle over the past month, spurred by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 that has sparked demonstrations around the world.