PORTLAND, Sep 4, 2020, BBC. Police in the US have shot dead a man suspected of fatally shooting a right-wing activist during protests in Portland, Oregon, officials say. Michael Reinoehl, 48, a self-described antifa supporter, was filmed shooting the man during last weekend’s tension, and admitted to it before his death, BBC reported.
Reinoehl earlier said he acted in self-defence when he shot Aaron Danielson, a supporter of the Patriot Prayer group.
Police said he was armed and was shot during a confrontation with officers.
Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place nightly in Portland since the killing of black man George Floyd in May.
Last Saturday Trump supporters held a large rally and fought with anti-racism protesters in violent exchanges.
Reinoehl, who regularly attended the protests, had told Vice News that he had thought he and a friend were going to be stabbed by Danielson.
“I had no choice. I mean, I, 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,” he said.
On Thursday President Trump had highlighted the killing of Danielson, tweeting “Why aren’t the Portland police arresting the cold blooded killer of Aaron “Jay” Danielson. Do your job, and do it fast.”.
Antifa, short for “anti-fascist”, is a loosely-affiliated network of mainly far-left activists.
What do we know about the arrest?
A warrant for Reinoehl’s arrest was issued and he was located by agents on Thursday in Lacey, Washington about 120 miles (193km) north of Portland.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ray Brady said it was not clear why the suspect was in Lacey and he did not believe the suspect lived at the address.
Lieutenant Brady said the police were conducting surveillance when the suspect left the apartment and got into a vehicle in the road.
“There was a confrontation between the officers that were on scene and the subject,” he said.
“The information we have at this time is that the subject was armed. There were shots that were fired into the vehicle and the subject fled from the vehicle, at which time there was additional shots that were fired.”
He said four officers fired their weapons.
Who was Michael Reinoehl?
Reinoehl was a regular participant in Portland’s anti-racism demonstrations and was part of the protesters’ security team that aimed to protect demonstrators from potential agitators.
The father-of-two described himself on social media as an army veteran and professional snowboarder. He told Vice News he had not turned himself in to police after shooting Danielson because he believed right-wing protesters were collaborating with police who would not protect him.
“I am 100% ANTIFA all the way!” Reinoehl posted on Instagram in June and he suggested that the counter-protesters’ tactics amounted to “warfare”, according to US media.
“Nightly, he would break up fights […] He wanted change so badly,” a friend of Reinoehl, Randal McCorkle, told the New York Times.
On 26 July he told AP that he had been shot in his arm after intervening in a fight between an armed white man and a group of young black people.
In July, while the protests were ongoing, he was told to appear in court on charges of carrying a loaded gun in public and resisting arrest. In a separate case he was charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm after he raced his 17-year-old son on an interstate road.
Several hundred protesters gathered in Portland following the shooting on Thursday and one sign in the street outside a police station read: “There’s blood on your hands. You murdered Michael Reinoehl.”
Why have there been clashes in Portland?
Reinoehl was suspected of shooting Danielson during clashes on Saturday night when a large procession of supporters of President Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters.
The shooting came amid fights between the Trump supporters and BLM protesters in the city centre.
Tension rose after a convoy of some 600 vehicles flying flags and carrying an estimated 1,000 Trump backers proceeded through central Portland.
Video showed some people firing what local media described as pepper spray and pellets at BLM groups who had tried to prevent them entering the city by blocking streets.
The city has become a flashpoint for tension with some violence between between far-right groups, such as Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, and left-wing counter-demonstrators known as antifa, or anti-fascist movement.
On Thursday Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Democratic officials condemned the violence that had taken place in Portland, writing “The violence must stop. There is no place for white supremacy or vigilantism in Oregon.