World

Suspect in Portland death killed by U.S. investigators in Washington state

Man suspected of fatally shooting right-wing supporter in Oregon killed during scuffle with law enforcement.

Michael Reinoehl killed as federal task force attempted to apprehend him: Justice official

Michael Reinoehl is seen during a protest in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler's residence in Portland, Ore., on Friday, Aug. 28. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian/The Associated Press)

A man suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Ore., was killed Thursday as investigators moved in to arrest him, the U.S. Marshals Service said Friday.

The man, Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, was killed as a federal task force attempted to apprehend him near Lacey, Wash., about 193 kilometres north of Portland.

Reinoehl was the prime suspect in the killing of 39-year-old Aaron (Jay) Danielson, who was shot in the chest Saturday night, a senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press.

Federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service had located Reinoehl on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. During the encounter, Reinoehl was shot by a law enforcement officer who was working on the federal task force, the official said.

The official said Reinoehl had pulled a gun during the encounter and was shot by law enforcement. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The arrest attempt came shortly after Reinoehl gave an interview to VICE News in which he appeared to acknowledge having killed Danielson. In the interview, Reinoehl said he "had no choice" but to do what he did because he thought he and his friend were about to be stabbed.

A Washington State Patrol Crime Lab worker looks at evidence markers in the early morning hours of Friday in Lacey, Wash., at the scene where Reinoehl was killed Thursday night as investigators moved in to arrest him. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Ray Brady said four members of the fugitive task force fired their weapons, including two Pierce County Sheriff's deputies, an officer from the Lakewood Police Department and an officer from the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Brady said investigators haven't yet determined how many rounds were fired.

The suspect was alone at the time of the shooting, Brady said, with no children or other people present.

Spoke to Vice after being ID'd as a suspect

Brady said he doesn't think the suspect lived at the address where he was shot, and it's not clear what brought him to Lacey.

"We don't know that specifically yet," Brady said. "I do not believe that was his residence."

U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a statement called the successful locating of Reinoehl "a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities."

Danielson was fatally shot in the chest Aug. 29 after some participants in a caravan of Trump supporters, estimated at about 600 cars, drove downtown and encountered Black Lives Matter protesters.

Skirmishes broke out, with people in the caravan firing paintball weapons at people in the street. Video taken by a live-streamer appeared to show Danielson, a member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, spraying pepper spray just before he was shot.

"You know, lots of lawyers suggest that I shouldn't even be saying anything, but I feel it's important that the world at least gets a little bit of what's really going on," Reinoehl told VICE of the confrontation that night. "I had no choice. I mean, I ... had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of colour. But I wasn't going to do that."

Reinoehl had described himself in a social media post as "100% ANTIFA," suggested the tactics of counter-protesters amounted to "warfare" and had been shot at one protest and cited for having a gun at another.

He had been been a regular presence at anti-racism demonstrations in Portland.

Police on July 5 cited Reinoehl on allegations of possessing a loaded gun in a public place, resisting arrest and interfering with police.

Previous violent encounter

On July 26, Reinoehl was shot near his elbow after he got involved in a scuffle between an armed white man and a group of young people of colour. The man who was carrying the gun, Aaron Scott Collins, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he and a friend had just left a bar when they saw the group harassing an older Black man. His friend began filming them with a phone, and the group confronted them, calling them Nazis, he said.

Reinoehl later that day spoke to an AP videographer. His arm was wrapped in a bloody bandage; he said he was on his way to meet protest medics so they could change it.

He said he didn't know what had started the altercation between Collins and the group, but that several people had decided to intervene when they saw Collins fighting with minors.

Demonstrators attend a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland on Aug. 2. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

"As soon as the adults jumped in, he pulled out a gun," Reinoehl said. "I jumped in there and pulled the gun away from people's heads, avoided being shot in the stomach and I got shot in the arm."

Reinoehl also was wanted on a warrant out of Baker County in Eastern Oregon, where court records show he skipped a hearing related to a June case in which he has been charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Protests have erupted daily in the Pacific Northwest city since the killing of George Floyd.

Governor calls for end to violence

With unruly demonstrations in Portland nearing the 100-day mark, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and other Democratic leaders on Thursday called for an end to violence even as federal agents were continuing to arrest protesters who allegedly assaulted law enforcement officers.

"The violence must stop," Brown wrote. "There is no place for white supremacy or vigilantism in Oregon. All who perpetrate violent crimes must be held equally accountable."

A man is treated after being shot last Saturday night in Portland. Fights broke out in the city's downtown as a caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump drove through the city, clashing with counter-protesters. (Paula Bronstein/The Associated Press)

The statement does not single out the small minority of left-wing protesters who have been setting fires, vandalizing buildings and throwing objects at police. But Brown's spokesman, Charles Boyle, said it "is a collective call to action for an end to violence in Portland and affirms that those who commit violent acts must be held accountable."

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell has denounced protesters who broke windows and set a fire this week to a business in the upscale apartment building where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives. Protesters are angry that Wheeler has not stopped officers from using batons and tear gas against Black Lives Matter protesters. Wheeler now reportedly plans to move out of the building.

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