SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Two people arrested after shots were fired following an argument between Black Lives Matter protesters and a Confederate group in Salisbury on Sunday have been charged.
The incident happened around 7:45 p.m. as approximately three dozen protesters were gathered at the corner of Church Street and W. Innes Street near the Fame confederate statue. They held signs and chanted, cheered supporters who drove by and exchanged obscenities with others.
WBTV was there when several protesters got in a very loud face-to-face argument with members of a Confederate heritage group. It appeared one of those men fired a gun into the air.
Several shots could be heard as protesters scrambled.
Police very quickly apprehended a man identified as 49-year-old Jeffrey Allan Long and placed him in a patrol car as protesters screamed “Lock him up!”
According to police, officers were stationed one block away from the protests near the Fame statue on Innes Street. Two separate groups were allowed to gather in downtown Salisbury when the shots were fired.
Officers say they witnessed Long pull a handgun from his waistband and fire two rounds into the air from a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. He put the gun back in his waistband and walked away towards the 100 block of Church Street, followed by protesters.
Officers took Long into custody as he made his way back to the intersection, recovering a second handgun from an ankle holster.
At the same time of Long’s arrest, Brandon Walker was identified to police as a person also involved in the altercation, but who had not discharged a firearm. As police approached Walker in the 100 block of S. Church Street to take his statement, he hid behind a car and placed a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun under the car. He and his companions were detained until Walker was arrested and his companions released.
Long has been charged with discharging of a firearm in the city, carry with a concealed weapon, and carry a weapon at a parade. He was released on a $2,000 bond. Walker, of Salisbury, was charged with one count of carrying a concealed weapon.
Officers say three handguns were recovered at the scene.
There was a very heavy police response after the arrests and the area was closed as the protesters began walking towards the square.
No injuries were reported.
The arrests come one day after a peaceful mobile protest held Saturday afternoon in downtown Salisbury turned a bit more tense as darkness fell.
Approximately three dozen protesters took up places on the four corners of the square Saturday, chanting “Black Lives Matter,” and “I Can’t Breathe,” among other things. Many in the group held signs and shouted as cars drove by, many in support of the protesters.
By 10:50 p.m. Saturday it appeared that the protesters had left the area. There were no reports of injuries or property damage following that protest.
The protests come after Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death. Chauvin is accused of ignoring another officer who expressed concerns about Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe while Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes. Floyd, who was black, had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store.
Chauvin, who was fired along with three other officers who were at the scene, faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of murder.