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Man facing gun charge accused of driving into crowd of peaceful protesters in Brentwood

5 On Your Side's crews witnessed the incident firsthand. They saw the truck drive recklessly through the crowd and then heard several loud pops Thursday

BRENTWOOD, Mo. — A man has been charged for shooting into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Brentwood Thursday night, police confirmed Friday.

Protesters first started their demonstration in the Brentwood Promenade parking lot. They were gathered waiting for the march to begin when police said Jeffrey McMillen “drove reckless through a crowd that was gathered in front of Target for a rally.”

The incident was caught on camera and shared with 5 On Your Side. Craig Currie’s video shows a GMC Sierra pickup truck drive in the area where protesters were gathered. Many of them were waiting on the sidewalk and out of the way of the road, when the truck starts driving through.

One man stayed in the middle of the street and didn’t budge as the truck drove closer. The driver lurched the truck toward to the protester. People in the crowd started screaming at the driver and banging on the truck as he sped off down the road that runs right in front of Target. Other protesters ran to get out of his path.

Police said McMillen also fired a gun while near the protesters.

5 On Your Side’s Jenna Barnes was covering the peaceful protest Thursday night and saw the incident firsthand. She said after first driving through the crowd, the truck came back around a few minutes later, and the driver shouted, flipped people off and as he drove away, protesters and the 5 On Your Side crew heard loud pops.

People in the crowd and a security guard who was with our field crew also identified the sounds as gunshots. We had reached out to police to see what they knew.

Credit: City of Brentwood

Brentwood police officers corralled McMillen on the Home Depot parking lot just down Hanley. They said he had a 9MM handgun on him at the time.

McMillen was arrested Thursday. The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged him with unlawful use of a weapon. He’s being held in the St. Louis County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

RELATED: Watch: Hundreds light up the night in Brentwood to honor George Floyd

Watch: Hundreds light up the night in Brentwood to honor George Floyd

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Brentwood Thursday evening to honor George Floyd, the man killed by a Minneapolis police officer last week. To end the hours-long rally, they lit up the night with cell phones and flashlights in his memory.

A public memorial was held in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon. Following the memorial, people in Brentwood gathered for the 'I AM George Floyd' rally. 

"It could have been me, you know. I am George Floyd," said protester Cedric Gerald.

Demonstrators fear who could be next.

"I have a grandson that I pray for every day and every night," Dee Hollins said.

Hollins brought her niece and nephew to the rally. She has lived through it before.

"I've had water hoses and the dogs and stuff in Virginia. And it wasn't easy. That was the year of 1964," she said.

Nationwide marches for equality is not what she expected for 2020.

'We're lending a voice to those who have already been silenced," Gerald said.

The event began at 6 p.m. at Brentwood Promenade. There are several stores in shopping complex — including Minneapolis-based Target. It and many other stores were closed and boarded up.

"Our purpose is to heal our community and build our community," organizer and congressional candidate Cori Bush said.

She said the group, ExpectUS, isn't made of peaceful protesters — their goal is to disrupt — but they are non-violent.

RELATED: Protesters peacefully march in Florissant

They blocked roads in a normally congested area of Brentwood for about three hours. The demonstrators marched down Hanley Road until they reached the Walmart parking lot less than a mile away. The crowd formed a circle and many people took a knee, sat down or laid face-down.

Police officers blocked off streets to allow the crowds to march down the usually busy road. They were parked on nearby lots while the rally stopped on store parking lots.

At around 8:40, they marched back down to Brentwood Boulevard and stood in the street for several minutes under the I-64 overpass.

At around 8:50, the crowd turned on flashlights and cellphones, lighting up the darkness beneath the overpass.

Not everyone supported the march.

In a tense moment as people initially gathered at Target, a man in a pick-up truck drove through the crowd, forcing people to get out of the way. When he came back around a few minutes later, he shouted, flipped people off and as he drove away, protesters and a 5 On Your Side crew heard loud pops.

A security guard working with the 5 On Your Side team identified the sounds as gunshots, as did several protesters. We've reached out to Brentwood police to see what they know about what happened.

ExpectUS has put together other protests in the area, including a gathering in downtown St. Louis Monday afternoon. Thousands of people peacefully marched through streets onto Interstate 64. In a Facebook post, the group said their first goal is to keep everyone safe at the events, and that violence is unacceptable because it further hurts communities.

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