Man Charged After Drive-by Shooting at National Guard Soldiers in Minneapolis

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National Guard members are seen through fencing and wire near the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis on Monday, April 19, 2021, after the murder trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin advanced to jury deliberations. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts Tuesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

MINNEAPOLIS -- A 28-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the drive-by shooting of a group of Minnesota National Guard soldiers this week that left two injured.

The Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office charged Andrew Thomas with one count of illegal possession of a firearm on Monday. Minneapolis police say they arrested Thomas on Sunday night driving the vehicle caught on camera during the shooting.

On Sunday, at 4:20 a.m., multiple shots were fired out of a light-colored SUV passing the team of soldiers, along with a Minneapolis police officer, near Penn Avenue North and West Broadway Avenue. One of the shots pierced the windshield of a vehicle with four soldiers inside, according to charging documents. One soldier was injured by broken glass; the other sustained "superficial injuries," the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"I am relieved to know none of our Guardsmen were seriously injured," said Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke earlier this week. "This event highlights the volatility and tension in our communities right now. I ask for peace as we work through this difficult time."

The soldiers are part of Operation Safety Net, a joint effort among the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, the State of Minnesota and local jurisdictions that have been activated in response to protests of police violence in the Twin Cities. The protests came after the deaths of two Black men in Minnesota as a result of interactions with police -- George Floyd last year and Daunte Wright this month.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes after he was detained by law enforcement last May, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday. 

Many have been critical of the armed military presence in their communities. Popular chants included demands for the soldiers to "Go home" last week in Brooklyn Center, where hundreds of demonstrators turned out multiple nights in a row in response to a police officer killing Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man in that city.

Hours after the shooting, around 10 p.m. on Sunday, police officers spotted an SUV matching the description in south Minneapolis and pulled the vehicle over. Police found two guns in the car and arrested Thomas, the driver, according to charges.

Thomas, who court records list with a Minneapolis or a Chicago address, was barred from legally possessing a gun based on a 2017 felony third-degree assault conviction in Hennepin County.

Thomas was booked in Hennepin County jail, and was released to the custody of U.S. marshals on Tuesday morning.

This article is written by Andy Mannix from Star Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

RelatedTwo Guardsmen Return to Duty After Being Shot at in Minneapolis; 3K Troops Brace for Unrest 

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