PORTLAND, Oregon — Police officials identified the man fatally shot Saturday night in downtown Portland, Oregon, amid clashes between pro-Trump groups and left-wing protesters as Aaron J. Danielson of Portland.
Police said Danielson died at the scene of a wound to the chest. He was positively identified by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Portland Police Bureau announced in a statement.
The far-right group Patriot Prayer, which has previously clashed with left-wing demonstrators, mourned Danielson’s death.
“(H)e had a huge heart,” group organizer Joey Gibson said on his Facebook page. “God bless the life he lived.”
Authorities have not yet identified a suspect in Danielson’s death.
The fatal shooting came after the “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland,” in which supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in cars and drove in a caravan into Portland. Video footage from CNN affiliate KOIN showed pickups with American flags, “Thin Blue Line” flags, and Trump 2020 flags.
Portland police tried to keep the caravan out of downtown, but vehicles were able to “come into the downtown core,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said. Police said there were instances of violence between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators when the caravan came through downtown.
The shooting in Portland was the second instance of deadly gun violence at a political protest in the past week. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, an armed 17-year-old “Blue Lives Matter” supporter allegedly killed two people and wounded a third, according to a criminal complaint. The teenager’s attorney said he acted in self-defense.
Protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter have demonstrated in Portland nightly for about three months, initially spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstrations that denounce police brutality and racial injustice picked up again after last weekend’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Governor says group was looking for a fight
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, blamed Saturday night’s violence on the caravan.
“The right-wing group Patriot Prayer and self-proclaimed militia members drove into downtown Portland last night, armed and looking for a fight,” Brown said. “Every Oregonian has the right to freely express their views without fear of deadly violence. I will not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.”
Justin Dunlap, who witnessed the Portland shooting and captured some of it on his Facebook live stream, said he “didn’t hear much lead up to it.”
“I heard like three seconds of yelling and saw a guy spray bear mace,” Dunlap told CNN. “The victim sprayed mace and launched it right into the other guy.”
CNN has not confirmed if the victim is the person who sprayed mace.
Videos posted by New York Times reporter Mike Baker showed several fights between protesters and members of the caravan Saturday night.
In one video, protesters on a street corner screamed and tossed items at people in a stopped white pickup with an American flag and the words “All Live Matter” written on a back driver’s side window. One of the protesters is seen lighting a Trump flag on fire as the caravan begins to drive off.
A man riding in the bed of a passing black pickup displaying a blue “Oregon for Trump” flag and an American flag can be seen pointing and firing a paintball gun at the protesters standing on the corner. Riders in the black truck can be seen releasing some form of spray.
And as a green pickup passes, someone riding in its bed can be seen spraying something toward protesters. Passengers in that green truck duck as the other protesters toss something at them.
Police arrest 29 people on Sunday night
Police have consistently arrested those who they say have attacked property downtown or thrown items at police.
On Sunday night, Portland Police arrested 29 people after a protest “devolved into an unlawful assembly” and people took aim at police with rocks, eggs, and other items, the Portland Police Bureau said in a press release.
Many protesters were wearing heavy protective gear, including helmets, gas masks, and body armor, and used shields and reflective squares to redirect lights back at the officers, the release states.
The police union on Monday said officers had been stymied by city officials.
“It is time for the Portland City Council to support Chief Lovell and the Police Bureau by imposing a zero-tolerance policy regarding protest violence, gun violence, and all other violence in the city,” the Portland Police Association said on Facebook.
“It is time for the City Council to allow the Police Bureau to use its resources to restore community safety before the city falls deeper into the sinkhole that has made Portland the subject of negative national news,” it added.
Police estimated a crowd of about 150 people began a demonstration at a nearby park around 8:30 p.m. Sunday and marched several blocks to the Penumbra Kelly Building, which houses the city’s crime prevention team.
Protesters chanted “stolen land, stolen people” and “Black lives matter” as they drummed and held up reflective gear outside the office building used by police, which has been the target of demonstrations. A bright light from the opposite direction was directed at them.
Video from CNN affiliate KPTV showed officers in uniform, including sheriff’s deputies and state troopers, restraining and leading protesters away one at a time.
Police warned protesters to stay off the property and stop throwing projectiles. Police declared an unlawful assembly about 10:40 p.m. and began making arrests. Officers did not use munitions or deploy tear gas, the release notes.
Governor puts out plan to quell protests
The governor put out her own plan to try to calm clashes over protests in the city.
“We all must come together — elected officials, community leaders, all of us — to stop the cycle of violence,” the governor said in a news release Sunday evening.
The governor said three neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions — Clackamas County, Washington County and the city of Gresham — will help the Portland Police Bureau deal with the protests. Federal prosecutors and the FBI also will be assisting with investigation of criminal activity and Oregon State Police troopers will be helping with patrols, Brown said.
“I will continue to work with local leaders, law enforcement, and community leaders to bring all voices to the table to help end the nightly confrontations — but that will only come if we commit ourselves to do the hard work to bring about real change and racial justice,” said Brown.
Brown will convene a community forum which will include Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Black protest organizers and community leaders to discuss racial justice and police reform, according to a statement from the governor’s office.