Two Olympia, Wash., stepbrothers are suspected of attempting to steal beer from a grocery store on Thursday. The men, however, who were unarmed, are now in the hospital after a confrontation with local law enforcement during which the brothers were shot, the Associated Press reports.
A police officer claims that he was assaulted by one of the men with a skateboard before the shooting, which now has 21-year-old Bryson Chaplin in critical condition. Andre Thompson, Chaplin's 24-year-old stepbrother, is stable.
The shootings reignited protests against alleged police brutality, with hundreds of demonstrators rallying at a park before marching to Olympia police headquarters and City Hall chanting, "Black lives matter" and "No justice, no peace," AP notes. The two stepbrothers are black, while the officer involved is white.
Detectives from multiple agencies are currently investigating the shooting.
"We are committed to helping our community work through this difficult circumstance and help us understand this tragic event," Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said at a Thursday news conference, according to the wire.
"It was terrible," the men's mother, Crystal Chaplin, told KIRO-TV. "It's heartbreaking to see two of my babies in the hospital over something stupid."
At around 1 a.m., officers responded to a call from a Safeway, where employees accused the pair of attempting to steal beer before throwing the beverages at workers who confronted them.
When officers broke off to search for the two young men, Officer Ryan Donald encountered two young men with skateboards who fit the description. Moments later, he radioed in that shots had been fired, AP notes.
"I believe one of them is hit; both of them are running," Donald reported, adding that one of them "assaulted me with his skateboard."
"I tried to grab his friend," Donald said. "They're very aggressive, just so you know."
Although Donald wasn't injured, the police chief maintained that an officer "has the right to defend himself" if the suspect has an object that could be used with deadly force.
The 35-year-old officer, who is currently on administrative leave pending the investigation, has no record of complaints against him, according to AP.
Read more at the Associated Press.