Allen Scarsella, Black Lives Matter shooter, took target practice 'for when we have to shoot black guys'

Allen Scarsella's defense attorney says jurors should ignore his racist jokes and focus on his claim of self-defense.

Allen Scarsella's defense attorney says jurors should ignore his racist jokes and focus on his claim of self-defense.

 Allen Scarsella's a racist, and not even his defense lawyer's trying to convince anyone otherwise.

As the trial of the 24-year-old shooter of five Black Lives Matter protesters got underway Tuesday, prosecutors worked quickly to portray the Lakeville native as a bigot, quoting text messages he'd sent to friends long before the shooting, the Star Tribune reports.

It seems Scarsella liked joking about how much he liked guns and disliked non-white people: Once he told he a friend they should go target shooting to prepare for "when we have to shoot black guys." Another time he said his current gun was "not killing brown people dead enough." 

Defense attorney Peter Martin didn't offer much of a defense for the character of Scarsella, who faces six felonies -- assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of second-degree assault, and one "armed riot" -- for shooting into the crowd.

"You might not like his attitude toward black people, but he is on trial for his conduct -- not his opinions, not what he said to people," Martin told the jury.

About that jury: None of its 14 members are black, and 11 are men, "at least" nine of them white, according to the Star Tribune.

Scarsella's defense team will ask jurors to believe Scarsella was acting to save his life and the lives of the three men who'd joined him at the Fourth Precinct protests; all three were also charged with felony riot and aiding a criminal.

Scarsella reveled in the attention paid to a short clip of him and another man brandishing a gun and threatening protesters, according to Hennepin County prosecutors, who say Scarsella told a friend, "The internet is on fire about us. I'm famous." 

Famous enough to get recognized when he returned to the Jamar Clark protests four days later, when protesters told Scarsella and his companions to get lost and followed them back to their vehicle.

The confrontation that followed left several victims with bullets in their legs, and Tevyn  King, then 19, with one in his gut, which would have proved fatal if not for immediate treatment, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Doctors chose to leave the bullet in King, as a surgery to remove it was deemed too risky.

Martin says it's his client who was facing the threat of death that night, telling the jury Scarsella "shot because he was afraid he and his friend were going to get killed by the mob."