The driver of a tanker truck that was driven into a large crowd of peaceful protesters on a bridge near Minneapolis has been arrested by police after he was dragged from the vehicle and beaten by the crowd.
It did not appear that any marchers were struck by the truck as it moved through the crowd on the westbound lanes of Interstate 35 on Sunday (local time), honking as people screamed and fled for safety.
The freeway was closed to traffic at the time.
Police estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 people were on the bridge at the time the truck sped through.
A journalist on the scene told America’s ABC News they watched the fear in the eyes of people running towards them as they tried to get out of the way.
A witness told Reuters the truck driver was dragged out of the cab of his tractor-trailer rig and beaten by protesters before he was taken into custody by Minneapolis police.
Footage of the incident shows the horrific moment as some demonstrators clung to the moving vehicle before crowds dragged the driver onto the road and started to bash him.
“I’d be shocked if he’s alive,” wrote one Twitter user, who posted a clip of the incident which has been shared widely.
Another video purports to show the driver, now shirtless, being hustled into the back of a police car.
Photos of the moment show the driver shirtless and covering his face while he stands next to a police officer, while other photos show the police fending off protesters with pepper spray.
— Jerm (@j_muhhney) June 1, 2020
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” the Minneapolis Department of Public Safety said on Twitter.
“The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck.”
Authorities have confirmed there were no serious injuries or fatalities.
The driver has since been identified as Bogdan Vechirko, who lives in the nearby town of Otsego. He is being held in custody on probable assault charges, reports CBS Minnesota.
Investigators say they are still trying to understand the motive of the incident and how the truck was able to get onto the highway despite road blocks.