Prosecutors used text messages in a Minneapolis courtroom Wednesday to portray Allen Scarsella as a someone who hated black people and loved firearms.
Scarsella, a 24-year-old white man, is charged with shooting five African American men at a Jamar Clark protest in north Minneapolis in 2015. He has pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts.
From the witness stand, Minneapolis police Sgt. Kelly O'Rourke read from several text messages extracted from Scarsella's iPhone. Some of the messages allegedly passed between Scarsella and unnamed others included the use of the 'n-word.' In other messages, Scarsella allegedly talks about shooting "chimps" and "brown people."
Prosecutors say one of the text exchanges occurred between Scarsella and a woman he's been dating since before the shooting. Ashley Murray testified about an exchange between herself and Scarsella on Nov. 23, 2015 — the day of the shooting.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
"Sam's Club is packed with smelly brown people, slowing things down..." Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judith Hawley read from the text she said was from Scarsella.
"OMG I just died laughing at that," read Hawley from Murray's reply. "Well maybe they should stock up on shampoo and bodywash."
Scarsella's reply: "They should just gas themselves. Honestly."
Hawley also asked Murray if she told police investigator Sgt. Sara Metcalf on the day after the shooting, "he's a nice guy but he hates black people," in reference to Scarsella. Murray denied making that statement.
However, Metcalf later testified Murray did say that during the hour-long taped interview.
Sgt. O'Rourke also testified about several videos recovered from Scarsella's phone. One video played in court for jurors appears to show Scarsella recording himself looking into a mirror practicing quickly drawing a handgun from a shoulder holster. O'Rourke said another video played in court shows Scarsella and another man performing some kind of training exercise outdoors in the rain. The two men are firing handguns while they advance on targets.
A few of the text messages O'Rourke read in court allegedly written by Scarsella include him bragging about his marksmanship.
The defense has yet to present its case to the jury, but public defender Peter Martin has said Scarsella only fired his gun out of self-defense.