LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A frequent participant in Louisville’s month of protests has been accused of fatally shooting a photographer in the city’s Jefferson Square Park after a dispute with another person.
Steven Nelson Lopez, 23, is facing charges of murder and first-degree wanton endangerment, Louisville Metro Police officials said Sunday after releasing his arrest citation.
Lopez is accused of killing Tyler Gerth, a 27-year-old Louisville photographer who had become a vocal supporter of the protests.
At 8:59 p.m. local time Saturday, MetroSafe Communications reported multiple gunshots being fired in Jefferson Square Park. Arriving officers found one person shot in the face in the middle of the park near a short concrete wall, according to Lopez’s arrest citation.
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Bystanders return fire, wound accused shooter
Several witnesses identified Lopez, who had frequented the park, as the shooter. And video surveillance showed him shooting a handgun into the crowd, the citation says.
Several bystanders returned fire, shooting Lopez in the leg, according to the citation.
He was taken to University of Louisville Hospital and arrested and charged at 10:47 p.m., it states.
Maxwell Mitchell, a protester who often streams video of the demonstrations, recorded video of the man identified as Lopez shooting multiple times Saturday night in the park.
Mitchell said Lopez fired at least two shots into the air before he shot toward the encampment. Video shown by LMPD at a Sunday press briefing showed a man they say is Lopez pointing his gun in the air, as those around him scattered.
A speaker at the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression press conference earlier Sunday made several references to Lopez, saying he had been involved in multiple disturbances at the camp and had to be escorted away from Jefferson Square Park before the shooting.
According to protesters, Lopez had an altercation with another person at the park Saturday, but it wasn’t Gerth.
“I do not believe he was targeting the man that he hit,” Mitchell said.
Accused shooter a frequent participant in protests
Lopez has been a frequent sight at the protests, which have rocked the streets of Louisville for a month.
Several Louisville Courier Journal reporters have seen him among the crowd in recent days, and a speaker at a Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression press conference Sunday morning said he’d been among the crowd for the past 12 days at least.
Court records show he was one of 17 protesters arrested on June 17, and a Courier Journal photographer captured his arrest that day in a photo. He was charged that morning with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia.
His citation noted he was in possession of a handgun “with two full mags of ammo” at the time of the arrest.
Lopez’s police record before Saturday’s shooting contains minor offenses such as third-degree trespassing and a failure to maintain car insurance.
Louisville Courier Journal reporter Hayes Gardner contributed.
Lucas Aulbach can be followed on Twitter: @LucasAulbach
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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Steven Lopez: What we know about Louisville protest shooting suspect