UPDATED 7/8, 9:24 p.m. ET: Prosecutors have filed three felony charges against Dawit Kelete, the 27-year-old man who is accused of running over two Black Femme March demonstrators over the weekend.
The man was initially arrested on two counts of vehicular assault; however, his charges were upgraded after one of the victims, 24-year-old Summer Taylor, died from injuries sustained in the attack. According to TMZ, Kelete is now charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving. He reportedly remains behind bars on $1.2 million bail. Kelete is scheduled to be arraigned on July 22.
UPDATED 7/5, 10:58 a.m. ET: 24-year-old Summer Taylor died on Saturday evening at a local hospital due to the injuries she sustained after being hit, NPR reports. The other victim, 32-year-old Diaz Love, remains in critical condition.
See original story below.
Two women have been critically injured in Seattle amid protests in the city after a 27-year-old man drove his car toward a panicked crowd.
The Associated Press reports that the two women, 24-year-old Summer Taylor and 32-year-old Diaz Love, were hit by Dawit Kelete, who drove his car around vehicles blocking the closed highway, Interstate 5. He reportedly drove sped toward a crowd of protesters on Saturday at 1:40 a.m. local time. In a video of the incident taken by protesters at the scene, people in the crowd can be heard warning others of the car before fleeing. The clip shows two individuals, Love and Taylor, were hit by the speeding vehicle.
Love had been filming the protest for a Facebook livestream, but the video ended abruptly before screeching tires can be heard. Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead has since confirmed that the driver is in custody, and was booked into the King County Correctional Facility in the early hours of Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied, and officials are currently attempting to determine a motive and deduce how he was able to get onto the closed highway.
As of right now, police have not concluded whether the incident was a targeted attack. "My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple," added Mead. The protesters had been marching on the freeway for over an hour before Kelete drove into the crowd. Eyewitnesses on the scene told authorities they believe it was a "purposeful attack," TMZ noted.
The incident comes after a particularly tumultuous week for the city of Seattle. On Wednesday (July 1), Seattle's 'Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone' was cleared by police. The order came from Mayor Jenny Durkan after four shootings, two of which were fatal, occurred in the area within the last month. Tensions over how to handle the area, first set up as protests against police brutality and systemic racism took place across the country, have been fraught since it was first established in June.