On Sunday night 27-year old Ricardo Munoz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania — a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic — was shot dead by police after he lunged at officers who arrived after his family called 911.
Within hours around 100 Black Lives Matter protesters descended on the southwestern Pennsylvania city. They gathered on West Chestnut Street at North Prince Street near the Lancaster city police station, which had become ground zero for protests for several weeks.
The so-called peaceful protest quickly turned into a dangerous riot as protesters threw various items, including bricks, at officers. They damaged the building and a nearby post office and vandalized police cars according to authorities. They also smashed windows and set fires, causing damage to some area businesses.
On Monday night a metastasizing mob of 140 showed up outside the police station, some carrying “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” signs.
Authorities said several of the protesters didn’t even live in the county. Four of the suspects arrested were from outside Lancaster County. Two were armed with handguns which were recovered by officers after the arrests and additional charges are likely to be filed.
Police arrested Barry Jones, 30, of York, Yoshua D. Montague, 23, of York, Matthew Modderman, 31, of Lancaster, Talia Gessner, 18, of York, Kathryn Patterson, 20, of Mercersburg, and Taylor Enterline, 20, of Manheim.
Charges filed against the eight included arson, institutional vandalism, carrying a firearm without a license, riot, disorderly conduct, defiant trespass and obstructing highways and other public passages.
Police said two suspects — Jamal S. Newman, 24, of Lancaster, and Frank Gaston, 43, of Ephrata — were both listed as homeless and on probation.
Munoz’ arrest records show that in March, 2019, he was accused of slashing four people with a knife. Police said when officers arrived, Munoz was holding a knife and refused to drop it. Officers tased him and he was arrested.
According to court documents, Munoz’s bail was set at $1 million. However, a month later, it was changed to “unsecure,” meaning he didn’t have to pay unless he violated bail conditions. He was also required to wear an electronic monitoring device.
Body camera footage captured the shooting and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation proceeds.
“This office fully supports the right to gather and peacefully protest, however, the riotous behavior exhibited last night is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said Monday.
Earlier this month a violent mob of BLM protesters descended on restaurant patrons in downtown Pittsburgh, at an outdoor Italian restaurant, 238 miles away from Lancaster.
Several videos posted on Facebook and Twitter showed the group harassing, bullying and threatening diners seated outside Sienna Mercato on Penn Avenue.
The same group of protesters was also filmed chanting and using a bullhorn inside a nearby McDonald’s. They harassed and assaulted the black manager who was asking them to leave the store.
Protests against police brutality and systemic racism have been ongoing in Pittsburgh since May, when a black man, George Floyd, was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
On May 30 rioters vandalized 71 businesses in downtown Pittsburgh, smashing windows and ransacking stores. They emptied cash registers, stole food, clothes and jewelry. They also set two police squad cars on fire and threw bricks, stones and lit Molotov cocktails at police.
The City Council voted to freeze further officer hiring and shift $250,000 from their recruiting budget to fund social services programs, among other reforms.