Suspect In Portland Shooting Shot And Killed By The Officers Sent To Arrest Him
Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, a suspect in the shooting of rightwing extremist Aaron "Jay" Danielson at a Portland protest, was shot and killed outside his home last night by members of a fugitive task force as they went to arrest him. According to initial reports from the US Marshals service, the "suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers" and "[t]ask force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene."
This occurred not long after Vice News aired an interview with Reinoehl, in which he confessed to shooting his gun at the protest.
"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 said. "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 color. But I wasn't going to do that."
Media reports have portrayed members of Patriot Prayer and the rest of the "pro-Trump" contingent as simply driving through the protest spraying people with paintballs and pepper spray, but Reinoehl said they also had more serious weapons, and that he had seen them earlier when he was downtown.
"I'm seeing all these vehicles with hatred, people in the backs of the trucks yelling and screaming and swinging bats and sticks at protesters that are just standing there yelling at them," he said.
At 8:45 p.m., Reinoehl said he went to the aid of a friend surrounded by trucks laden with armed pro-Trump protesters. "I saw someone that is a dear and close friend of mine in the movement by himself basically confronting all these vehicles," Reinoehl told Farley. "And so I let him know that I'm here, parked my vehicle and joined up with him, found myself in the intersection in front of the food trucks surrounded by trucks and cars that had weapons."
It was then that he found himself in a confrontation with Danielson, who Reinoehl says was threatening him and his friend with a knife. "Had I stepped forward, he would have maced or stabbed me," Reinoehl said.
According to video, Danielson did indeed spray some mace.
A man, who [Chandler] Pappas, [Danielson's associate who was with him at the time] later contends is the gunman, shouts: "Hey, we got some right here. We got a couple right here."
Another man says, "He's macing you, he's pulling it out."
The sound of spraying is audible, followed immediately by two gunshots. [Independent journalist Justin] Dunlap captures the shooting on his livestream.
Mr. Danielson can be seen raising his arm and beginning to spray a pepper spray-like substance, followed almost immediately by the gunshots. The man in white backs away with his arm raised and then runs, along with the man dressed in black.
Reinoehl also told Vice that he hadn't turned himself in because he believed the police were in cahoots with Patriot Prayer.
He had not turned himself in, he said, because he believed right-wing protesters were collaborating with police, who will not protect him or his family.
He said at the time of the confrontation and the shooting, there were no police present to help. "There was definitely nobody in sight, no police officer, nobody at all that could intervene. It was a free-for-all. And the police were letting it happen," he said.
And he maintained he acted in self-defense:
Two weeks later, he said, he had no regrets about his actions. "If the life of anybody I care about is in danger, and there's something I can do to prevent it … I think that any good human being would do the same thing," he said.
Reinoehl said he's spoken to attorneys who say "I've got a viable case for self defense and protection because there's a definite threat to my life."
The victim, Aaron "Jay" Danielson, was there with Patriot Prayer, a notoriously violent rightwing group founded by Joey Gibson, a close friend of his. Their primary purpose, supposedly, is securing "free speech" for conservatives in liberal areas of the country, which they already have. They fight for this by trawling the Pacific Northwest attempting to pick fights with antifa activists. One associate of the group is currently serving a life sentence for fatally stabbing two people and injuring a third on a Portland train after those people asked him to stop screaming racial slurs at two black teenage girls. He remains convinced he did nothing wrong, as he believes those people were attempting to infringe on his "free speech rights." Ian Kramer, a member of the group, beat a woman so badly that he broke her vertebrae after the group decided to go to a bar where antifa activists hung out in order to harass them.
They are, however, beloved by the police in Portland. As reported by the Daily Beast in February of 2019, Gibson maintained a close relationship with police Lt. Jeff Niiya, who kept him apprised of what antifa activists were doing and gave him advice on avoiding arrest.
There are certainly a lot of parallels to this shooting and the one in Kenosha, in which aspiring cop and Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and injured one during a protest. The difference, of course, is that Kyle Rittenhouse is a conservative and is also still alive. Another difference is that the Right is arguing that his shooting was self-defense because someone threw a plastic bag towards him and another person hit him with his skateboard after he, Rittenhouse, shot the man with the plastic bag in the head. They do not believe that Reinoehl was acting in self-defense in shooting Danielson after being maced by him.
Prior to the fugitive task force shooting Reinoehl, Donald Trump sent out a tweet demanding his arrest.
Conversely, when asked to weigh in on the situation with Kyle Rittenhouse, Trump stated:
"You saw the same tape as I saw," Trump said. "And he was trying to get away from them, I guess; it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we're looking at right now and it's under investigation."
He went on to say of Rittenhouse: "I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been — I — he probably would have been killed."
That, of course, did not actually happen.
Given Patriot Prayer's history of violently attacking leftist protesters, I can understand why someone might think they need "security." But deadly force is not an appropriate response to the threat of pepper spray. It's odd that President Trump and all of Fox News believe deadly force is an appropriate response to someone throwing a plastic bag, or someone attempting to disarm you after you've shot and killed a person armed with a plastic bag.
They just think it's okay for their side to kill us. I take it back. They think it's an absolute good.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse