The governor of the southern US state of North Carolina declared a State of Emergency on Wednesday (Sep 21) following a second night of unrest in Charlotte ignited by the fatal police shooting of a black man.
"I have declared a State of Emergency & initiated efforts to deploy the Nat'l Guard & Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement in CLT," Governor Pat McCrory said on Twitter.
One protester was critically wounded and on life support following the clashes in the city center.
The city said earlier that the person had died, then retracted the statement.
"Civilian who suffered gunshot wound during protests is on life support, critical condition. Not deceased," the city said on Twitter.
Authorities had said the protester was shot by a civilian, adding that police did not open fire.
An AFP reporter at the scene of the protests outside the Omni Charlotte hotel saw a man who was apparently shot falling to the ground, bleeding heavily.
Several hundred people taunted riot police Wednesday night amid clashes in the city center.
Some demonstrators banged on windows, others threw objects at police and stood on cars. Police fired what appeared to be tear gas, sending the protesters scattering.
"We are working to bring peace and calm to our city. We know this is not who Charlotte is," Mayor Jennifer Roberts said on CNN, calling on people to stay home and off the streets.
"Tell everyone that violence is not the answer," she said.
Roberts added that authorities would consider other options if violence continues to flare, "possibly curfews and that sort of thing, but right now, we are continuing to work with what we have tonight."
Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot dead in an apartment complex parking lot on Tuesday after an encounter with officers searching for a suspect wanted for arrest.
Sixteen officers and several demonstrators were injured in clashes overnight Tuesday following Scott's death, the latest in a string of police-involved killings of black men that have fueled outrage across the United States.
Earlier on Wednesday, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton weighed in on the violence in Charlotte, which came on the heels of another fatal police shooting of a black man, Terence Crutcher, on Friday in Tulsa.
"Keith Lamont Scott. Terence Crutcher. Too many others. This has got to end. -H," tweeted Democrat Clinton, signing the post herself.
After calling to "make America safe again" in a tweet, Trump suggested later Wednesday that the Tulsa officer who shot Crutcher had "choked."
"I don't know what she was thinking," the Republican said, speaking at an African-American church in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Charlotte shooting took place at 4pm (4am, Singapore time) Tuesday as officers searching for a suspect arrived in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
They spotted a man with a handgun -- later identified as Scott -- exit and then reenter a vehicle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney told journalists.
Officers approached the man and loudly commanded him to get out and drop the weapon, at which point Scott exited the vehicle armed, according to police.
"He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject," the police chief said.
However, Putney added that he did not know whether Scott "definitively pointed the weapon specifically toward an officer."
Carrying a firearm is legal under local "open carry" gun laws.
Scott's relatives told local media that he was waiting for his young son at school bus stop when police arrived. He was not carrying a gun but a book when he was shot dead, they said -- an account police disputed.
"I can tell you a weapon was seized. A handgun," Putney said. "I can also tell you we did not find a book that has been made reference to."
PROTESTS TURN VIOLENT
Anger was simmering in Charlotte, especially over the police chief's assertion that Scott had been armed.
"It's a lie," said Taheshia Williams, whose daughter attends school with the victim's son. "They took the book and replaced it with a gun."
On Wednesday afternoon, 100 students, mostly African-American, participated in a "lay-in" protesting police brutality, singing gospel songs.
"I do this for hope," one protester called out. "I do this because I'm tired of being silent," another said.
One man held a sign reading "Legalize being black."
Protests had swelled Tuesday evening as news of the shooting spread, with demonstrators carrying signs that read "Black Lives Matter" and chanting "No justice, no peace!"
Putney said the situation turned violent, with "agitators" damaging police vehicles and throwing rocks at officers.
Riot control police were deployed and used tear gas to disperse the crowd, Putney said.
A group of protesters nevertheless marched to a major highway early Wednesday, shutting down traffic in both directions. They broke into the back of truck and set goods on fire, according to police.
SERIES OF SHOOTINGS
A string of fatal police shootings -- from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to St. Paul, Minnesota -- has left many Americans demanding law enforcement reforms and greater accountability.
In the southern state of Oklahoma, Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan called video footage of Crutcher's deadly shooting on Friday disturbing and "very difficult to watch."
The 40-year-old is seen with his hands up, appearing to comply with police officers before he is shot once by officer Betty Shelby and falls to the ground. Another officer fires his stun gun.
The US Department of Justice said Monday it would conduct a federal civil rights probe into the Tulsa shooting, parallel to an investigation being carried out by local authorities.