A private security guard for a TV station was in custody as authorities on Sunday probed a fatal shooting after an altercation erupted during opposing rallies in downtown Denver.
The violence flared Saturday afternoon in Civic Center Park after a man participating in what was called a “Patriot Rally” sprayed mace at another man, according to the Denver Post.
The man who was shot near the Denver Art Museum was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour later, KUSA TV station said. The station said on its website that it had contracted the private security guard who was arrested in connection with the shooting.
“It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests,” the station said.
A verbal altercation ensued before the shooting, Joe Montoya, division chief of investigations for the Denver Police Department, said at a Saturday press conference.
A “private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa,” is a suspect in the incident, according to a tweet from Denver police.
Update: Further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) October 11, 2020
“We don’t want any erroneous information going out, any speculation,” Montoya said. “That’s what gets everybody angry and motivated to commit more violence, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”
There was a heavy police presence downtown Saturday afternoon, and officers attempted to keep “two groups with opposing views” apart, Montoya said. Two guns and a can of mace were found at the scene, he said.
A counterprotest called “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive” took place in the park about the same time as the Patriot Rally.
The right-wing Patriot Rally protesters gathered in the park’s amphitheater and occasionally chanted patriotic songs and hoisted banners, the Post reported.
Participants in the left-wing rally held up flags and signs deriding Nazis and white supremacists as they gathered in the middle of the park, several hundred feet from the barricaded amphitheater, the Post said.
Our thoughts are with the family of the victim of the shooting that took place today. I am not going to comment on the details as it is still under investigation, and its connection or not to either demonstration hasn’t been determined. (1/4)
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) October 11, 2020
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said violence was not acceptable.
“While we encourage peaceful protest, we will never tolerate demonstrations escalating to clashes and violence. Political differences should be resolved at the ballot box and not in the streets, and we will keep it that way through this election season and beyond,” he tweeted.
Clashes between protesters have escalated in recent months in some cities.
Rittenhouse’s arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right. A legal defense fund has attracted millions in donations, and President Donald Trump has even defended the teen.
Others see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Denver shooting: Security guard in custody; BLM; Patriot rally