UPDATED 12:42 PM PT — Sunday, July 5, 2020
A Washington man was taken into custody this weekend on two counts of vehicular assault. Authorities arrested 27-year-old Dawit Kelete after he allegedly drove his car into a group of protesters in Seattle early on Saturday.
The peaceful protest against police brutality was being held near downtown in a section of the I-5 freeway, which has been closed off for approximately 19 days due to the demonstrations.
Video footage showed Kelete allegedly driving around road blocks, which barred off the freeway section, and into the group of protesters at high speed.
The following footage could be considered graphic.
Daaaaamnnnn!! 2 Seattle protesters were run over just now. pic.twitter.com/NJAXUUdYxy
— Haley Kennington (@kenningtonsays) July 4, 2020
“I heard someone yell, ‘A car, a car!’ I did see the car move through the crowd and I saw the protesters hit. It was a terrible scene.” – Mark Taylor-Canfield, citizen journalist
The vehicle, a white Jaguar sedan, fled after appearing to strike two young women. One of the victims, 32-year-old Diaz Love, was live streaming the event to Facebook until the video came to an abrupt halt.
Love is still in the hospital, where she remains in serious condition.
Content WARNING. This is independent journalist, Diaz Love, who has been covering Seattle. She and a group of people were apparently hit by a car a short time ago. #SeattleProtest #CHOP #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/q5Som8PZgD
— Lady Helpish (@LadyHelpish) July 4, 2020
The other victim, 24-year-old Summer Taylor, died in the hospital Saturday night.
Absolutely heartbreaking. Summer Taylor was only 24-years-old, peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter when they were struck by a car. Thinking of their family during this difficult time and everyone in the movement today. pic.twitter.com/i7hqkjSSMH
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 5, 2020
According to authorities, Kelete currently faces charges for vehicular assault and felony hit-and-run. However, these could be upgraded as the investigation develops.
Police say the driver who hit protesters standing on the I-5 at night has been identified as 27-year-old Dawit Kelete. pic.twitter.com/qOwZb7ULgQ
— Chris Menahan ???????? (@infolibnews) July 4, 2020
First responders reported he was sullen when he was taken into custody and asked if the victims were doing okay. Kelete reportedly did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time and the motive behind the attack is still unknown.
The suspect is currently in King County Jail and his first court date is set for Monday.
In the meantime, authorities are cracking down on future dangerous and illegal freeway demonstrations like this.
“We will block their access,” explained one official. “If they go around and they actually do go out on the freeway, they will be arrested.”