Man who frequents BLM protests charged with photographer’s murder
By Cassie B. // Jul 06, 2020

A man who was arrested for fatally shooting a photographer was a regular fixture at recent protests in Louisville, according to police.


23-year-old Stephen Nelson Lopez was arrested on a charge of murder and first-degree wanton endangerment. The charges are related to the fatal shooting of 27-year-old photographer Tyler Gerth in Louisville’s Jefferson Square Park.

Lopez was seen in the corner of the park in video footage from the scene brandishing a weapon. People could be seen scattering as he fired multiple shots. The shooting was also captured by bystanders on their phone cameras, which helped officials to identify the shooter.

According to other protestors, Lopez got into a fight with someone, left the park, then returned with a gun before opening fire on the crowd. Several bystanders at the scene returned fire, shooting Lopez in the leg.

Gerth was pronounced dead at the scene, and Lopez was brought into police custody shortly thereafter.

On Tuesday, Lopez pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in an arraignment hearing that was held via video conference. His bond was set at $500,000 cash, and he is due back in court on July 8.

Shooter had a history of taking psych meds and was living in his car

Lopez was reportedly a frequent participant in protests related to the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, and locals say he was often seen at the park in question. The most recent incident was his third arrest in June, with two previous arrests related to his actions during other protests.

On June 17, for example, he was charged with inciting a riot, harassment, possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct. A citation from that arrest noted that he had a handgun with two full mags of ammo in his possession at the time.

Louisville’s Interim Police Chief, Robert Schroeder, said in a press conference: “He had been repeatedly asked by other members in the park to leave due to his disruptive behavior.”

The Louisville Metro Police Department has warned that the conditions in the park are becoming increasingly unsafe. They have been cracking down on a local law that prohibits camping in the park, and they've been removing property that is left there overnight and cleaning the park daily. The police have said that those who fail to leave the park when it closes at 11pm could be charged with third-degree criminal trespass. Locals have said this law was not enforced before the shooting.

Police do not believe that Lopez was targeting the photographer he shot, and protesters who were present said that Lopez had been in an altercation with a different person at the park.

Lopez was raised by his grandparents, who say that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as a child. They said he had stopped taking his medication recently. He used his stimulus check to buy a handgun and had been living out of a car over the last four months as his life continued to spiral out of control.

The man he killed, Tyler Gerth, was said to be a strong supporter of the movement for racial justice and had been using his photography skills to document the protests in Louisville. He was described as a “kind, tenderhearted and generous person,” and his family said they hoped his death would “be a turning point and the catalyst for peace in the city he loved so much.”

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