Minneapolis, MN – Allen ‘Lance’ Scarsella, the white supremacist who was found guilty of twelve felonies for planning, and executing an act of domestic terrorism is due to be sentenced April 26, 2017. Scarsella shot five unarmed African Americans at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis on November 23, 2015.
Documentation of the testimony of co-defendant Nathan Gustavsson is Part Seven of our comprehensive report-backs from the Scarsella Trial.
[Content Advisory: some of the language seen in this article may be disturbing and offensive to our audience.]
Watch the video below for a timeline of events that led to the shooting:
WITNESS TESTIMONY – DAY EIGHT (JANUARY 26TH) – PART 3 (part 1 is in Scarsella Trial Part 5 & part 2 is in Part 6)
January 26th, 2017 was the most eventful day of the Scarsella trial. It featured the end of the state’s witnesses, the defense calling a witness and multiple police officers, and to finish off the day, the defense called Nathan Gustavsson, a co-defendant of Scarsella’s, who testified against his lawyers’ wishes.
Just after 3:15 p.m. on January 26th, as the court resumed from the afternoon break, Robert Jones, Nathan Gustavsson’s attorney, spoke before the judge about how his client, Gustavsson, is waiving his 5th Amendment right not to testify. Jones also very clearly stated for the record that he did not want his client testifying.
As Nathan Gustavsson took the stand, the gallery in the courtroom was more full than at any other point in the trial, with around thirty people in attendance. The 22 year old Gustavsson said he is originally from the Iron Range, lives in Hermantown, Minnesota, and is unemployed.
He stated that on an average night he would “play video games or watch movies,” and that his favorite hobby was guns. He said while he was younger, he “couldn’t fund that hobby very well, so it was a very rare occasion” that he would shoot guns.
Defense attorney Peter Martin asked Gustavsson about the co-defendants he has in this case and who they were to him. Martin asked who Allen Scarsella was, to which Gustavsson answered, “an individual who I met through the internet.” He stated he knew Daniel Macey from Pine City Community College and that he knew Joseph Backman and Julio Suarez as people “who came to our get-togethers,” referring to 4chan message board meet-ups.
Gustavsson took some time to explain what 4chan is when prompted by Martin, saying he believed it was created in 2003 and that the letter naming for different boards, like the /k/ board, “don’t really have any meaning.” He said “most people” use it anonymously using whatever screen name they come up with and that you don’t have to pay to post and look at the different boards and forums. He also added that one of his screen names was ‘Arctic Fox’.
Gustavsson said firearms are what got his group of white supremacist co-defendants together, explaining he met the “fellows through different forums online, specifically dedicated to weapons.” He said they went on camping trips in Pine City where they “would go out there exploring, hiking, shooting, and at night a decent amount of drinking” would happen.
MEDIA FROM /k/ BOARD MEET-UPS IN MINNESOTA
In the video below, from 2015, the narrator can be heard saying, “this is the 2015 /k/ meet, the biggest one so far.”
Explosives blow up a target after being ignited from a bullet.
Gustavsson and Daniel Macey can be seen in the video below ‘clearing’ a building.
Further videos with Gustavsson featured in them from /k/ board meet-ups below.
Julio Suarez, who came to the 4th Precinct with shooter Allen Scarsella four days before the shooting, can be seen acting as the injured one in the video below. Nathan Gustavsson is seen in a brown shirt, green hat and a long rifle.
The weekend before the night of the shooting on Monday, November 23rd, 2015, Gustavsson said he went camping in Pine City with Scarsella, Backman, and another man he only knew by his screen name “Ash Williams.” Gustavsson said that the trip was planned a couple of weeks in advance and that he was “not entirely sure” why that weekend was chosen but said it was the most convenient.
Martin asked if they had any discussions about politics and Gustavsson retorted,
“we’re not big politics guys, on /k/ specifically, politics is not allowed to be discussed. A majority of what we talked about was personal stuff, stuff we’d see, stuff we’d done.” – Gustavsson
He said that he recalled “a conversation” about the protests at the 4th Precinct, which all he knew was that it was “Black Lives Matter.”
Gustavsson said he had never been to a protest before and that during the conversation about the 4th Precinct protests at the camping trip he said, “I think people may have voiced their opinions about certain parts of it…I’m sure that we all did voice opinions, yes.”
“I believe it was very damaging to the community surrounding it … It was not a legal … not a calm protest.” – Gustavsson testified about his opinion of the protests seeking justice for Jamar Clark
Gustavsson said that during their conversation about the protests, at no time did anyone ever mention physically going there. These conversations were happening one to two days after Allen Scarsella and Julio Suarez first went to the protests armed with guns for “a little bit of internet fame.”
Their visit, in which they posted multiple threatening and trolling videos to the internet, became a major point of tension in the local community as well as online. Gustavsson testified that he had brought up the visit to the precinct before their trip but that nobody spoke about it during the trip itself.
After the camping trip, Gustavsson said Macey, Backman, and Scarsella decided to go to the protests not long before Monday, November 23, 2015. He stated that he went to “livestream and talk to people and potentially sit around the fire.”
He said that before going, they all met at Julio Suarez’s place in south Minneapolis, where he bought a rifle off of Suarez, placed the rifle in his trunk and left his car at Suarez’ place, as Backman drove the four of them (Scarsella, Gustavsson, Backman, and Macey) to the fourth precinct. He said that he hadn’t made any preparations and “just had what I was carrying on me,” and that he was wearing a red and black flannel shirt, an orange beanie, and blue jeans.
Suarez declined to go with them to the precinct, but Gustavsson “said he would rather stay home.” Martin asked Gustavsson about Suarez’s trip to the protests at the 4th Precinct on November 19th, and Gustavsson said,
“my understanding is that he went down there, livestreamed it…[and then]…he was, I would use the word defamed, because the internet articles called him a white supremacist.” – Gustavsson
Gustavsson said that he watched Scarsella and Suarez’s livestream from the 19th, and remembers telling Scarsella in texts before their trip on the 23rd that he could “rile shit up.” He testified that he would “refer to different jokes and movie quotes,” and when he said he could get the crowd to “disperse,” it was just “hyperbole.” He explained that “to stir shit up was to cause, I guess the only word I could use comes from 4chan, butthurt,” because, he said the protesters couldn’t do anything back to them.
Gustavsson testified that on the way to the precinct on the 23rd, they stopped at Taco Bell and he was the only one who ordered food. He said he brought his boombox speaker because he “figured if we were gonna sit around a fire, we could play some music.” He said that they arrived to the precinct around ten o’clock and that he brought his food to the protest because he wasn’t able to eat it all.
The defense displayed Exhibit 1, an aerial picture of the area directly around the 4th Precinct. Gustavsson said he was “not familiar with the area” and had never been to the northside of Minneapolis. He pointed to where they parked their car on Logan Avenue and said they all walked together to the corner fence on Morgan Ave. and Plymouth Ave. Gustavsson said, “when we got there, we noticed the crowd was considerably different … not spaced out like it was that first night [November 19] … we got worried that we weren’t going to be able to blend in with the crowd.”
Gustavsson said he was “simply eating [his] burrito and telling commentary” for the livestream that Scarsella was recording on his phone. He said that he had his “scarf on” because it “must have been ten degrees.” Gustavsson said that they all “had either a snowmobile mask or a scarf on,” and that Macey had on a large warm winter coat and carried “a parody” sign that said something like, “Ron Paul will make anime in 2016.”
While Gustavsson and his cohort were standing awkwardly next to the corner fence, individuals started to approach them, the first of whom was shooting victim Wesley Martin. Wesley Martin asked Scarsella, who was recording with his phone, if they were filming through Facebook, to which Gustavsson said that his group all “basically in unison” said yes, they were. Gustavsson said they had a brief conversation with Martin about what the protest was about and then “a couple came up … a relatively tall male and a short girl,” Gustavsson said of shooting victim Teven King, who stands 5’8”, and his girlfriend.
Picture exhibits from screenshots of the livestream that the four perpetrators took were published and shown in court. A juror had difficulty seeing the pictures because of glare, and because the defense couldn’t figure out how to alter the settings, they personally showed the pictures to each of the jurors in the box.
“More people approached and they started to crowd us … initially it was five, then it was twenty or thirty,” Gustavsson said “they basically surrounded us all, the initial people demanded that we take off our masks and … they started to get agitated and screaming at us.” He said, “I didn’t say anything, I was terrified.”
Gustavsson testified that Scarsella got punched when he was standing next to him but he didn’t see it and said “there were a number of individuals who were agitated … at one point they were pushing against my chest … Mr. Backman stated ‘okay, we’re leaving,’ and put his hands in the air after Mr. Scarsella was punched … we were all sliding between the protesters and the fence and trying to get out.” Gustavsson said that Scarsella stopped recording after he was punched and that he heard an angry person say “I’m going to kill you.”
The defense then showed Exhibit 111 and as Gustavsson watched, he said that the video started after he “got sucker punched from behind … after being punched, I was unable to see as my glasses were knocked off … I was knocked to the ground, my hat and glasses were lost, they were never recovered … I thought was going to be stomped to death.” He said “after being hit, I was not able to quite process what was going on,” and Scarsella “reached down and pulled me back up.”
He said he went north up Morgan with Scarsella and that Backman and Macey were further ahead and went east on 14th Avenue before Gustavsson and Scarsella could catch up. As the video played, Gustavsson said, “I am trying to leave the protest … I was simply following Mr. Scarsella and the others to escape the very large crowd,” which was screaming things like “I’m going to beat the shit out of you and get out of here.”
Exhibit 111 continued as Gustavsson gave his moment-by-moment analysis of how he saw the events transpire. He said Scarsella was saying “please let us leave” and wasn’t recording. At this point, after 4:30 in the afternoon, Judge Caliguiri stopped the testimony and adjourned court for the day. Read ‘Part Three‘ to watch videos that show Gustavsson around the protest area.
WITNESS TESTIMONY – DAY NINE (JANUARY 27TH) – PART 1
In the second day of defense witnesses and the continuation of Nathan Gustavsson’s testimony, the courtroom’s gallery was more tense and packed after each break in the action.
The defense, still in direct examination, had Gustavsson recount the events of the night of November 23rd as they happened on Plymouth Avenue in north Minneapolis. He essentially said the same things he said the afternoon prior.
Gustavsson and his friends were approached near the fence at the corner of Morgan and Plymouth and told “take your masks off” by a large crowd that grew “uncomfortably close, about a foot away.” He said that he and his friends didn’t take their masks off and said “we were apprehensive, we weren’t really saying anything.”
They rounded the corner, he said, and he was punched. While showing Exhibit 111, he said you can hear Scarsella saying “please let us leave … at this point, I was in fear of my life … I couldn’t focus … couldn’t tell if it was because of the punch or because my glasses were gone.”
Gustavsson testified “five or six” people continued following them and that they then crossed the street. All four of the co-defendants are seen in the video walking north up Morgan Avenue with Macey and Backman in front, Scarsella behind them and about “ten feet away” was Gustavsson.
As they were being followed up Morgan Avenue, Gustavsson said, a ”protester that I was focusing on was ten to fifteen feet in front of me … he was laughing at me, sort of a sadistic laugh, laughing at my misfortune.” He said that he ”jogged backwards to the side” towards 14th Avenue and was chased by a tall “African American in typical street clothes,” while Scarsella, he says, was saying “we just want to leave” and the crowd kept “consistently approaching” them. He said when he would jog, the crowd would jog and when he would walk, the crowd would slow down and walk as well.
Gustavsson continued that he got in front of Scarsella on 14th Ave. and “at this point they got much closer and they bunched together and were approaching Mr. Scarsella” and were about “four feet away or so” when “one of the protesters reached into his pocket and pulled out a weapon … when the man pulled out a knife he was threatening Mr. Scarsella … he [Scarsella] pulled his conceal carry weapon and shot at this point.” This was the first time that the court had heard that there may have been a weapon on the unarmed victims.
“I panicked, froze up in fear, I didnt know what to do,” Gustavsson said he was ten feet away from Scarsella when Scarsella shot eight bullets, seven of which hit five victims. Scarsella told him to “run” after the shooting.
“As someone who studies competitive shooting, it was up there.” – Gustavsson gloated on the stand about Scarsella’s gun draw quickness with a huge smile
Gustavsson said he and Scarsella ran and then he had to stop because he said he has a poor heart and they went down an alley to hide from “the protestors” as Scarsella was “trying to guide me along.” He said that they called Backman, who was with Macey, and they came to the block they were at and picked them up. Gustavsson said, “I was bleeding heavily out my nose” after being punched in the face and that he was “checking everyone out to see if everyone was okay.”
Gustavsson said that they were all mad and that someone from his group called 911, “I believe Mr. Scarsella made a phone call … I believe it was to Mr. Suarez” and that Scarsella “was very apprehensive, looking around making sure we were all okay” while they were in the car and that “he was panicky, you could tell he had a lot of ahh, I guess, anxiety … he was very, very nervous.”
Gustavsson said they then drove straight to Suarez house, where he cleaned himself up, got some water, and checked out his tooth “to see how badly it was broken.” He said he took his own photograph that night in the car and that he kept wiping blood away from his nose, which he said he had to “reset” by running his fingers down the bridge of his nose. “I bit my tongue, had a broken tooth, and a light bruise on my face,” Gustavsson said.
He said he called his mom to ask if he had insurance for his tooth and said he lied to his mom, telling her that he “slipped on ice,” because “I knew she was gonna go to bed and I didn’t want her to worry.”
After they left Suarez’s house because they didn’t “want to impose” on him anymore, Gustavsson said they “got some food” and went to Scarsella’s place, “we believed it was self-defense and we needed legal advice … a couple of us started calling attorneys.” He furthered, “I believed our best option was to turn ourselves into the police,” so he drove Daniel Macey and himself to the police station “because I wasn’t going to run away from the situation, I can’t just run and hide. I knew it was self-defense … had to make it known.”
The defense showed a few of the pictures that investigators took of Gustavsson at the police station, pictures of his pants with blood stains, his tongue, his mouth, and his tooth. Gustavsson said his tooth was cracked from the blow of the punch he suffered a block before the mass shooting by Scarsella. Gustavsson opened his mouth to show the court that he no longer has that tooth anymore, as it was pulled while he was in police custody.
A morning break then occurred and defense attorney Peter Martin started the questioning after the break by asking Gustavsson how far away from Scarsella he was before Scarsella shot his Remington 1911. Gustavsson said he was “within ten feet” of him and “panicked” and “froze up” when he saw the knife from one of the protesters. He said he “had no idea what to do” and the guy with the knife was “immediately in front” of him while four or five others were slightly back from him “spread in a half circle…going more after Mr. Scarsella.”
Direct examination was then finished, with the courtroom at capacity for the first times of the trial. A lot of Hennepin County employees from the Attorney’s Office, community members, and a back row of press and independent media.
Prosecuting attorney Judith Hawley stood and loudly started the cross examination by asking Gustavsson if he knew he was being charged with felony riot and a multiplicity of other charges, Gustavsson chimed in that he wasn’t aware of any extra charges, “I’m only charged with one.”
Hawley then asked Gustavsson,
“as a defendant in this case, due to the discovery process, you have received all of the police reports…all of the videos…any analysis that was done on phones or computers…all of the witness statements…and you’ve had all that information available to use to prepare for your testimony here today?”
To all of which Gustavsson admitted “yes.” Hawley then got confirmation from Gustavsson that his lawyer and the defense attorneys had discussions with each other.
Hawley then questioned Gustavsson’s reasoning behind turning himself into the police (earlier he stated “I wasn’t going to run away from the situation, I can’t just run and hide. I knew it was self-defense … had to make it known”), saying that he refused to give any statement to the police when he turned himself in.
Hawley asked, “in fact, you went down there to provoke those people did you not?” Gustavsson replied, “no.” Hawley then spoke about some of the correspondence, including the 11:35 p.m. “rile shit up” text message that Gustavsson sent to whom he called his “acquaintance,” Scarsella.
Gustavsson stated, “I do not have any issues with African Americans,” and admitted that he has made derogatory terms of African Americans. The prosecution then published Exhibit 267, a picture from Gustavsson’s cell phone, to which Hawley described as ”a caricature of an African American and an individual holding a firearm” on top off a toilet in the outhouse of their Pine City camping trip with “I dindu nuffin officer” written on it.
“You think it’s funny?” Hawley asked Gustavsson, who said, “at the time I may have.” He explains, “dindu refers to the ebonics form of ‘didn’t do’, it’s referred to individuals amongst the social justice crowd.” Hawley questioned Gustavsson, “something your friends and you are making fun of?” Gustavsson said “yes,” and confirmed that he had texted racist terms in conversation with Scarsella.
Hawley focused on the fact that the campground where these racist pictures and conversations happened is the same place where Gustavsson had camped with Scarsella and others, including the weekend before the shooting.
Hawey asked, “you guys run up and down hills and you do shooting and maneuvers and dress in camouflage clothing and all that stuff, don’t you?” Gustavsson answered, “not necessarily maneuvers, but the rest, yes.”
Hawley questioned Gustavsson about a screen shot of the video that Scarsella and Suarez took on the night of the 19th, as well as the communication between the three other co-defendants. She focused on the language that they were using in their videos and their communication, stating the exact verbiage that they used.
Hawley then asked Gustvasson about 4chan, which he said was started as a “image board … originally intended for the discussion of anime and Japanese media.” Hawley then asked, “have you heard, with respect to 4chan, that it fosters a culture of haters?” Gustavsson said that “haters” and “hate” are different and that there is “a lot of irony” and “a lot of what is said on 4chan and the internet … is disingenuousness and not very many people are very serious.” He furthered, “specifically trolls, a troll is someone who does something for no other reason than to make someone mad.” Gustavsson said that he doesn’t like the pol, the politically incorrect board on 4chan, and that a lot of the content is racially charged “on the pol channel.”
Gustavsson responded directly about the “rile shit up” text and the “ask the n*g what he did” texts, saying that he sent them and he wasn’t talking about a protester with the latter text.
A text sent by Gustavsson after the first visit to the precinct said, “You guys broke rules 1 and 2 THEY KNOW.” Gustavsson testified that “I believe they somehow people found out where they were from” and this statement “refers to an unofficial rule, for 4chan” and is a “parody of Fight Club … this is more setting jest … it’s not anything more than a joke.”
Gustavsson said that after the videos that Suarez and Scarsella put out, Suarez got “doxed,” and that people sent that information to “shady news services” and Suarez started to receive death threats. Because of those threats, Suarez refused to go with them on the 23rd and he told the others to “be careful.”
Hawley asked about the texts that were talking about using a “burner car” and some of the racist remarks, namely speaking of the protesters, texting “much like 4chan but these people are retarded … like pavement ape tier intelligence.” Gustavsson said, “I don’t remember the text but according to the records it was in my phone.”
According to Gustavsson, his timeline from the 19th to the 23rd included watching the livestream that Suarez and Scarsella made in their first trolling visit to the precinct, watching the car video they made on their way, texting and talking with Scarsella, watching some movies with some friends in Pine City, going on a camping trip in Pine City, coming back Sunday night and going to the fourth precinct on Monday night.
Then Hawley referenced other text messages and asked Gustavsson what the “stars and bars” are:
Gustavsson: “It refers to the American flag.”
Hawley: “The American flag or the confederate flag?”
Gustavsson: “Ahh, yes, the confederate flag …it should not have been found in my phone … Ive seen this in evidence.”
Hawley showed Gustavsson the picture of the confederate flag that he had in his cell phone and he admitted it was his.
Exhibit 268, another image from Gustavsson’s cellphone which showed a car smashing through a group of bikers and it read “protesting is great but I have to get to work.” Gustavsson said, “I believe what it’s trying to portray is people blocking the roads.” As he spoke, he seemed to be having trouble breathing and he held his chest multiple times for several minutes, took many deep breaths and poured more water for himself while testifying.
When asked if he followed other Black Lives Matter protests, Gustavsson said, “not in a lot of detail … I didn’t follow the others as much as I did this one … you don’t see national news in your backyard much.”
Gustavsson was asked if he followed the George Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon Martin and if he had a conceal carry permit, to both he responded affirmatively. Hawley then asked “do you recall saying in a telephone call while you were still in custody that you could’ve but didn’t pull the trigger?” Gustavsson testified that he didn’t remember that conversation (all conversations on jail phones are recorded).
Gustavsson said he has a Remington 1911 handgun similar to Scarsella, although, he says “it’s too large” to normally carry. He said that on the night of November 23rd, Scarsella “was carrying it [his gun] in shoulder holster.”
Hawley asked, “you admire his [Scarsella’s] shooting acumen, don’t you?” bringing forth the fact that Gustavsson had earlier stated with a zestful cheeriness that Scarsella had shot his whole magazine at people so quickly and Gustavsson said,
“I smiled because it was something that was world class, something that I admire in competition.” – Gustavsson
Hawley said to Gustavsson that if he wanted to speak to the protesters as he proclaimed, “you could’ve gone down to the protest during the day.” She then asked Gustavsson, “you didn’t have any sympathy for Jamar Clark did you?” Gustavsson said,
“I have sympathy … I do not sympathize with the criminal behavior that led to it [his death] … I do not believe that the police officer involved was guilty of intentionally murdering that man.” – Gustavsson
Gustavsson reiterated that they wore masks to “keep warm and to prevent” others from getting their faces on camera. However, Hawley then brought forth communication that Gustavsson had with another friend in which he texted, “because my friend went to the BLM protest and stirred the shitbox, they’re attacking anybody with masks,” therefore leaving the court to believe that Gustavsson knew that they would be further provoking protesters by going back to the 4th Precinct with their faces covered.
The friend that Gustavsson was writing didn’t know what he was talking about, so his message response was, “tldr n**gers rioting in Minneapolis over dead n**ger, friends roll in and meme it, leave making everyone paranoid.” He testified that he adopted someone else’s post and copied it to send to his friend.
Hawley asked him if he knew what the phrase “chimp out” meant, Gustavsson at this point started coughing and holding his chest and answered, “a term invented by pol.” Hawley asked if it refers to Black people and if a person is saying “I’m going to get a chimp to chimp out, they are referencing a Black person?” Gustavsson affirmed this, “yes,” and said that he does not use that phrase.
Judge Caliguiri then interrupted the next flow of questioning to adjourn for a lunch break. When court resumed, a community member who was in the gallery was not allowed back in as they were told by a deputy providing courtroom security that they were “too loud in morning session.” (Unicorn Riot later asked the community member what they had done to be kicked out, as no-one in the gallery heard them say anything. The community member said, “I walked by Gustavsson and called him what he is, a ‘piece of shit’.”)
During all of the breaks, the judge reminded the audience that they cannot talk about this case on the 16th floor, in the elevators, or with jurors, also that those in the gallery must refrain from showing physical or emotional reactions, furthermore she remind the court of the other rules like no cell phones.
Before the jury was seated after the lunch break, the defense was denied a motion for jury instruction to add language of self-defense from a case a decade ago.
County attorney Hawley, once again, went over the night of the 23rd with Gustavsson. She brought up how he concealed his identity, saying in the morning testimony that he didn’t want to be recognized, that he “wasn’t hit or punched or kicked or choked” while being confronted about his mask at the fence with his three friends and how he carried his speaker box everywhere, even after the punch that he said left him “disoriented.”
Hawley said that Gustavsson had never told a police officer or anybody about the weapon he mentioned in the morning testimony. Gustavsson retorted, “a man held some sort of weapon over his head and laughed at me when I showed my fear.” He said, “I do believe it was knife” and that it was something metal, something shiny.
At this point, a Sheriff’s deputy (who was assigned to Scarsella during the trial and had several negative interactions with community members) came into the gallery and told an independent media member sitting in the second row that they couldn’t have their laptop out and abruptly told them to leave causing a small scene.
The judge then excused the jury and told the court that nobody except press is allowed laptops and reminded people about not using phones as well as not displaying any reactions. Caliguiri said that negative words were spoken to Gustavsson during the break and that the gallery should stop before a mistrial could be called.
After the disruption, Gustavsson said that he felt terrified and afraid for his life after he was punched and indicated through questioning that him and Scarsella both had cell phones on them and they both didn’t call 911, nor did they go to the cops for help.
Gustavsson said that while proceeding north on Morgan Ave. with his boombox, “a good portion of the people, yes, they did turn around,” and that he thought he was safe at that point as they were a fair distance in front of the group.
“Something happened to spark” the group of protesters coming towards them after they faltered back, Hawley said, and Gustavsson agreed with her and denied that Scarsella said a derogatory word, as was attested to in previous testimony from multiple victims.
Gustavsson testified that “as soon as he [Scarsella] was threatened,” he pulled out his gun ”very quickly.” He said that Scarsella held the gun “in standard isosceles stance” using two hands to fire and that he saw people react to getting shot and he didn’t know that the first people who had originally approached them had gotten shot.
Gustavsson said that no verbal warning was spoken before Scarsella “shot the man who had a weapon and was threatening.” He furthered that Scarsella fired in “rapid succession” and said that the men were real close and got hit and ran away.
When asked about leaving the scene, Gustavsson said he was not familiar with the area and was forced around that corner to go north up Morgan Ave. Hawley concluded that he knew there were cameras at the 4th Precinct, hence reasoning as to why they walked away from precinct instead of to it to seek safety. Hawley made it known to the court that in the hours after the shooting Gustavsson downloaded a photo and circled that location of the camera at the 4th Precinct. Gustavsson denied making the picture.
Gustavsson testified that after the shooting they called Joseph Backman to pick them up and that Backman called the police. Hawley then made the point that Backman just said “shots were fired” on the 911 call and that Gustavsson could’ve turned himself in at a multitude of locations. She spoke to the fact that when Gustavsson did turn himself in, he didn’t need medical services when the EMTs checked him out.
Hawley then brought forth extracted cell phone messages (using Cellebrite) from Julio Suarez to Gustavsson saying, “it will not look like self-defense if you run away,” and “delete your livestreams now.” Hawley continued with the extracted data saying a person named ‘frozenveggies’ offered to clean Gustavsson’s place and ‘connor gunsmith commando’ told him to turn himself in and that if one of the victims died he could be charged with it.
Gustavsson was asked if he was following the news of the shooting, he said “I had only heard that people had been injured, I did not hear the extent of the injuries.” In a text message sent the morning of November 24th at 10:39 a.m., Gustavsson wrote to his attorney, “we’re all guilty in this, I don’t think I can save myself.”
Directly after the shooting, they all met at Julio Suarez’ place in Uptown Minneapolis and then decided to meet at Scarsella’s in Bloomington at 2 a.m. It was noted that on their way from Suarez to Scarsella’s, Gustavsson attempted to call Scarsella many times between midnight and two in the morning. Gustavsson said that Scarsella’s girlfriend, Ashley Murray (who’s testimony can be found in Part Five) was over there and she and Scarsella were carrying guns and ammo out to the trunk of the car.
Hawley mentioned that Gustavsson was screencapping things on his phone during this early morning period, and she spoke of three pictures, Exhibits 269 (4th Precinct camera), 270, and 271, which Gustavsson denied were recovered from his phone and claimed they must have been mis-categorized into evidence.
Prior to turning themselves in, Joseph Backman and Nathan Gustavsson had a message conversation, where at 10:53 a.m., Backman texted Gustavsson that he had “the livestream” file on his computer drive and Gustavsson replied, “hide it.” Backman then texted Gustavsson, “DO NOT TALK TO THE COPS,” and Gustavsson responded “don’t plan on it” while he was on his way to the jail.
Gustavsson said that he requested his family shut down his Facebook account as he was worried about defamation. “We wiped everything else,” Gustavsson said, meaning all of the data from his computer except the livestream.
After he turned himself in, Gustavsson told police that he got a ride down there but testified, “I don’t know why I said that because I was driving,” to which Hawley retorted “if you didn’t want your car searched, you would say that you didn’t drive, wouldn’t you?” Gustavsson responded “yes,” and said, “oh, if you’re referring to the rifle” that he bought from Suarez the night before, he said he brought it to Pine City that morning and said he “parked on an off road and slept in [his] car” before turning himself in.
Gustavsson turned himself in with Daniel Macey in midday November 24, 2015. In the interrogation room they were recorded joking around and talking about different ways to escape. Gustavsson denied saying a lot of the things that Hawley read from the transcripts of his jail time. The prosecution was then finished with its cross examination.
The defense then started its re-direct examination reminding the jury that Gustavsson had been testifying for several hours at that point. Defense attorney Peter Martin asked “were you scared” during the night of the 23rd and the day of the 24th, Gustavsson answered, “very, I didn’t know what the future was going to hold.”
Back to the boombox, Gustavsson said it was turned on when they were at the precinct, but “at that point it was very quiet.” Earlier, Gustavsson said the boombox was to “play music around the fire,” also, later testifying it was brought to “overpower the n*g beats.”
Martin asked what he meant in one of his messages when he said “burner car,” to which Gustavsson said burner items were items that if they get stolen, broken, or lost, it doesn’t matter. Gustavsson clarified he had his own cell phone on him that night, not a burner phone, and rode in Backman’s car that they left the scene of the crime in, and that he was wearing the same clothes he “had been wearing since [he] went camping.”
Gustavsson said he hadn’t talked to Scarsella since the incident and testified that Scarsella was punched at the fence in the left side of his face. Martin showed the surveillance video from precinct again. Gustavsson said they “were screaming at me” and said he was afraid that if he said anything it would lead to further confrontation. The video shows him getting ushered away and he stated, “you can see me get punched.”
While looking at Exhibit 1, the aerial picture of the immediate vicinity of the 4th Precinct, he believed the shooting happened at mid-block, “I recognize that house from a picture.” He said, “when the shooting happened, they were walking towards us … when the shots were finally fired … they were directly in front of us, the man with the weapon, I believe he took a quick step at Mr. Scarsella.”
Gustavsson said that the threats made and shots fired were “within a second” and that one of the protesters held ”a metallic weapon.” Martin asked him to explain why he was testifying, Gustavsson said, “I am here today because the truth needs to be known and justice needs to be done.”
After a twenty minute afternoon break finished, Martin published Exhibit 268, the image of a car smashing through bicyclists with a caption, “protesting is great but I have to get to work.” Gustavsson explains, “it’s an image macro … as it’s known in common internet slang is an item that you take as a joke you make and at some point it becomes an in-joke … 4chan is a hub for such memes.”
Martin brought him back to the night of the 23rd and the surveillance video from the precinct and Gustavsson said he was “still trying to figure it out” who punched him and that there was no investigation. As the video continued to play after the punch, Gustavsson said, “from what I’m seeing here, it looked like three fourths of the protest are following us at this point,” and when they started leaving, a “small group split off to follow us up the street … I believe it was ten people.”
Gustavsson said one of the protesters following him was talking to him and “smiling sadistically” and could be heard, “I’m going to beat your ass, white boy.” He said he began to jog, got a couple hundred feet away and turned around only to see that some people were still following.
He said when he saw the shooting happen, there were “five or six” people around them and one was holding something over his head and was making the threats from about 10-15 feet away.
“They were speaking to us in a slightly raised voice,” Gustavsson stated, and said that Scarsella said once, “just let us leave, we don’t want any trouble.” Gustavsson said that “essentially a wall” of people moved towards Scarsella in a fast pace before the shooting. The defense was done with questions at this point.
Hawley started the re-cross examination by reiterating that Gustavsson just said there was no investigation of the person who punched him and asked Gustavsson why he didn’t file a police report if he got assaulted. Gustavsson said that he spoke to MPD and at the very end of his conversation before he was booked, he told the officer “I was assaulted … I expected an investigation based on the evidence given.”
Gustavsson said that he didn’t take his mask off after being asked to because “it would have endangered my family.” Hawley responded, “if you were just there to listen to music around the fireplace, why were you scared?” and Gustavsson responded saying that “social justice warriors” were after him and making him scared. Gustavsson said “I do not agree with them … I believe social justice warriors in general are misguided.”
Gustavsson firmly stated, “I have my opinions on equality and freedom,” and that he “distrusts the motives of people at protests,” testifying, “I believe they are mistaken.” He then said that even though the court has spotlit the variety of racist remarks he communicates with his friends, he does not have negative opinions of Black people, “I don’t believe using a word reflects my true opinion at all.” Hawley pressed him, “what word?” to which Gustavsson said, “I guess I’ll say it, specifically the word n**ger.”
Gustavsson admitted that “it is an offensive word” and understands that African Americans do not like to be called that word. Hawley then asked, “it reminds them of slavery, doesn’t it?” Gustavsson answered, “I don’t think they can be reminded of something they never participated in.” A sustained objection stopped further discussion on this topic.
Hawley then asked, “Would you agree with me that as you proceeded through your testimony today, when asked about what happened at 14th and Morgan, you keep adding facts?” Gustavsson answered, “I don’t know the exact road names.”
Hawley said that he had continually volunteered additional information about the incident throughout different points of his testimony to further their claims of self-defense, pointing to him bringing forth the new information that a protester had a weapon, a “shiny metal object,” and that this person was “lunging” at Scarsella.
The prosecution finished with their questioning and the defense took that moment to reassure the courts that Gustavsson turned himself in, had an injury on his face, and that he denied calling anybody any derogatory terms. With that, Gustavsson was excused from the stand around 4 p.m.
The perpetrator of this mass shooting, Allen Scarsella, was then called next on the stand. His testimony will be covered in Part Eight of this series.
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Protests for Jamar Clark, who was executed by the Minneapolis Police on November 15, led to an eighteen-day outdoor occupation of the 4th Precinct police station. To watch our live coverage of this historic protest encampment that was mere blocks away from the site of Jamar’s death, and a block away from where Scarsella open fired, click here.
Allen Scarsella and his group of co-defendants, Joseph Backman (28 y/o – Eagan, MN), Nathan Gustavsson (22 y/o – Hermantown, MN), and Daniel Macey (who got his charges dropped by Judge Caliguiri in late February), are all part of the growing movement of white nationalists clustered around xenophobic ideology blossoming in internet chat forums.
This racist reality was centered in this trial as a motive for the armed attack, namely speaking and posting about white-supremacist ideals through memes and terminology not fully recognized by the larger majority of the populace.
Trial proceedings in the State of MN vs. Scarsella took place on the sixteenth floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and were presided by Judge Hilary Lindell Caligiuri. Representing Allen Scarsella in his plea of self-defense were public defenders Laura Heinrich and Peter Martin, while Assistant Hennepin County Attorney’s Judith Hawley and Chris Freeman prosecuted the case. Fourteen people sat in the jury box: twelve jurors and two alternates, who were unknown to the court and even themselves until the judge gave the jury instructions after closing statements.
Allen Scarsella was found guilty on all twelve felonies levied against him on February 1st, 2017; one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree riot while armed, and five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon – causing substantial bodily harm, as well as five more counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon (note: on January 31st, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office added the five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon).
Read all ten comprehensive report backs by clicking the titles, Part One: Jury Selection, Unicorn Riot Subpoenaed, Opening Statements | Part Two: “In hindsight it was very stupid” | Part Three: Jury Sees Videos Around Mass Shooting | Part Four: Shooting Victims Testify | Part Five: Cell Phone Extraction Shows Scarsella’s Hardened Racism | Part Six: Defense Attempts to Discredit Protesters Using Police Videos, | Part Seven: Co-Defendant Waives his 5th, Testifies for White Supremacist, | Part Eight: Scarsella Takes Stand, Admits Shooting, Claims Self-Defense, | Part Nine: Defense Rests & Closing Statements, | Part Ten: Scarsella Guilty of 12 Felonies, Sentenced to 15 Years, or by clicking on the images below:
To see Unicorn Riot’s past coverage in relation to this shooting, see below: