LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A man gunned down during a Louisville protest over the police killing of Breonna Taylor was remembered at a vigil for amplifying calls for peace and helping victims of racial injustice.
Flowers and candles lined a makeshift memorial at Jefferson Square Park for Tyler Gerth, 27, who was fatally shot Saturday. A suspect described by other demonstrators as a familiar face but a troublemaker around the ongoing protests was charged with murder and wanton endangerment.
Dozens of people joined Gerth's father, Chuck Gerth, to take a knee Sunday night at a vigil for Tyler Gerth in Louisville, media outlets reported.
“He supported the cause," Chuck Gerth said. "He was solving injustices with Breonna and some of the injustice throughout the world.
“I've very proud of him. He was my hero. People really cared about him. And he cared about them.”
For nearly a month, protesters have been calling for the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death to be charged. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was killed in her Louisville home in March by police who were serving a no-knock warrant in a drug investigation. No drugs were found, and one of the officers was recently fired.
Saturday’s shooting was at least the second during the protests. Seven people were wounded May 28 when gunfire erupted near City Hall, prompting Taylor’s mother to issue a statement asking people to demand justice “without hurting each other.”
Chuck Gerth said his wife warned their son about going to downtown Louisville on Saturday "because she thought it would be dangerous, but he said, ‘No, I feel the need to go down and support the injustices and what’s going on.’”
Gerth’s family said in a statement that the avid photographer was ”incredibly kind, tenderhearted and generous, holding deep convictions and faith.” He would post photos of the protests to his Instagram account.
“It was this sense of justice that drove Tyler to be part of the peaceful demonstrations advocating for the destruction of the systemic racism within our society’s systems,” the family said.
Gerth was a graduate of Louisville's Trinity High School and the University of Kentucky.
An arrest citation identified the suspect in Saturday's shooting as Steven Nelson Lopez, who was wounded in the leg by gunfire from park bystanders who were defending themselves. Police and protesters said Lopez had taken part in demonstrations but was disruptive and had been asked by other protesters to leave.