Police officers in Colorado said on Monday they identified the man who opened fire on a Jeep as it drove on a highway through protesters who were trying to block the road.
Two photographs released by the police showed a white male with thick, shaggy hair, a short boxed beard, black-rimmed glasses, and a bandana-style item around his neck.
The man, who was wearing all black clothing, was positively identified with assistance from members of the public, the Aurora Police Department (APD) said.
“Thank you for all the tips submitted to us. We have been able to positively identify this male. More information should be released this afternoon,” police officials said in a statement.
The man is a person of interest in the July 25 shooting on I-225, which unfolded amid violence in multiple cities as leftist groups gathered to protest against alleged racial injustice.
Protesters started walking northbound on the interstate at approximately 6:35 p.m. About 25 minutes later, a Jeep traveling northbound was spotted through aerial footage heading toward the group. The driver of the Jeep then drove into the crowd, according to APD.
“While the Jeep was being driven through the crowd, multiple shots were fired by a protester,” it said in an incident summary.
Two adult males were struck by gunfire. Both were taken to the hospital. One was hit in the leg while a bullet grazed the other’s head.
The Jeep did not appear to strike any protesters, police said.
The man driving the Jeep continued driving north before eventually exiting the interstate, locating officers, and explaining what had happened.
The driver told officers that his vehicle was surrounded by protesters, who were yelling and striking his vehicle. The reason he kept driving was because he was scared and wanted to leave the scene, he said.
After the interview, the driver was released, pending an investigation. The Jeep was impounded for evidentiary purposes. The roadway was temporarily closed while detectives searched for evidence.
Detectives are in contact with the shooting victims, one of whom remained hospitalized as of Sunday.
“I not only find great concern with someone making the decision to drive their vehicle toward protesters on the interstate but that someone in the protester group opened fire, recklessly shooting two people,” Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a statement.
“We will be working with our District Attorney to discuss appropriate charges for the driver as well as working tirelessly to identify the shooter(s) on the interstate.”
Mayor Mike Coffman, a Republican, said he was wanted police officials to brief him about what happened.
“I would like the APD to address the nature of the injuries resulting from the incident, safety precautions taken by the APD knowing that the intent of the protesters was to temporarily shut down I225, the multiple gunshots that were fired, and whether any arrests were made,” Coffman said in a statement.
In a separate bulletin, the mayor said the city “cannot become Portland,” where rioters have gathered nightly since late May.
About 150 people stayed behind after a protest outside Aurora’s municipal complex ended Saturday evening before damaging city property, city officials said. Coffman accused police officers of showing “weakness” by refusing to use nonlethal munitions to try to disperse the crowd.
In his initial statement about the rioting, Coffman called the group “domestic terrorists.” He deleted the statement before issuing a new one without that description.