Protester Shot Driver Who Tried Turning, Police Say

July 1, 2020 Updated: July 1, 2020

Police officials in Utah said two people, who both say they support Black Lives Matter, were arrested after one of them allegedly shot a driver near a protest in Provo on Monday.

Jesse Taggart, 33, was booked late Tuesday on charges including firing a weapon near a highway, rioting, and attempted aggravated murder.

Samantha Darling, 27, was also arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and rioting.

Both said in social media posts before the arrest that the shooting was in self-defense.

The incident unfolded Monday night during a protest.

Dozens gathered in downtown Provo as a counter-protest to a group that drove around the area honking their horns in a show of support for the police.

The situation suddenly escalated around 8:30 p.m. when a group blocked a vehicle that was moving slowly down the road and attempted to turn onto another street, according to video footage captured at the scene.

The driver was shot but continued steadily moving forward and drove away. No one appeared to be injured by the vehicle.

A person appearing to be Taggart wrote on Facebook that the driver “hopped a curb passing approximately 7 cars to drive through the protestors, threw a girl approximately in the air 4 feet and about 8 foot distance.”

In another post, he wrote that vehicles were blocked from driving down the street by “protestors occupying the intersection and declaring first amendment rights of peacefully gathering and assembly of free speach [sic].”

Darling wrote on Facebook: “Before you go off spouting opinions about what happened in Provo why don’t you ask someone that WAS ACTUALLY THERE.” She also shared a post of someone else saying claiming that at least five vehicles ran into protesters on Monday night.

Both profiles expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. North Utah Black Lives Matter is listed as a host group for another protest planned for July 1 in Provo, along with groups that hosted the June 29 event.

The Provo Police Department said that video footage officers obtained showed the white SUV being surrounded when the driver tried turning onto another street.

“Several protestors began crowding around the vehicle. A male protestor ran to the SVU [sic] on the passenger side, pointed a handgun at driver and shot one round through the window,” it said.

The driver was hit by the bullet and hit the gas, trying to flee.

The man who fired the gun ran after the vehicle and shot a second round, which went through the rear passenger window. The man then concealed the firearm and continued to protest, according to police.

The same male, later identified as Taggart, later approached another vehicle and broke a window with the handgun.

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said in a video statement that peaceful protests are a fundamental right and “and often can become an important catalyst for positive change.”

“Criminal acts and violence such as we saw last night in Provo were anything but peaceful and are unacceptable. The public safety of our community is a top priority,” she added.

Provo City Council Chairman George Handley condemned the shooting.

“We have learned with great shock and disappointment that during a protest last evening a man used a handgun to shoot and injure an elderly citizen of our community who was in his vehicle passing through the area on an errand,” he said in a statement.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber