CHARLOTTE (North Carolina) • Residents of one of the biggest financial centres in the United States woke to a state of emergency with National Guard troops deployed on the streets after a second night of violent protests over the fatal police shooting of a black man.
One person was on life support after being shot by a civilian late on Wednesday as riot police in Charlotte used tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bang grenades to try to disperse demonstrators who looted stores, threw rocks and bottles, and set off fireworks.
Four police officers also suffered non-life-threatening injuries, city officials said.
The latest trouble erupted after a peaceful rally was held earlier in the evening by protesters who reject the official account of how Mr Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was gunned down by a black police officer in the carpark of an apartment complex on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Charlotte Fraternal Order of Police told CNN yesterday that he had seen video footage from the scene showing Mr Scott holding a gun.
Mr Scott's wife Rakeyia said on Wednesday evening that her family was "devastated" and had "more questions than answers" about her husband's death.
She said she respected the rights of those who wanted to demonstrate, and asked that they do so peacefully.
But the pleas appeared to have gone mostly unheeded.
Overnight, protesters smashed windows and glass doors at a downtown Hyatt hotel and punched two employees, the hotel's manager told Reuters. The slogan "Black Lives Matter" was spray-painted on windows.
Looters smashed windows and grabbed items from a convenience store as well as a shop selling athletic wear for the National Basketball Association's Charlotte Hornets. Protesters also set fire to trash cans.
It was the second night of unrest in North Carolina's largest city.
Nine civilians were injured and 44 arrested during the protests, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney said yesterday.
Govenor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency late on Wednesday night and began the process of deploying the National Guard and state highway patrol officers to the city to help restore peace.
"Any violence directed towards our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated," he said in a statement.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts was considering a curfew and Bank of America, which has its headquarters in Charlotte, told employees not to report for work at its uptown offices.
The killing of Mr Scott came just days after a fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was recorded on video. Protesters there have held peaceful rallies demanding the arrest of the female officer involved.
US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Wednesday with the mayors of Charlotte and Tulsa, a White House official said.
The two deaths were the latest in a series of police shootings over the last couple of years that have raised questions about racial bias in US law enforcement. They have also made policing and community relations a major topic ahead of the presidential election in November.