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The man suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of the right-wing Patriot Prayer group during demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, last weekend was killed late Thursday when a federal task force came to arrest him, law-enforcement officials said.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Brady said Michael Forest Reinoehl was killed near Lacey, Washington, after he emerged from an apartment that was under surveillance and pulled out a gun when confronted. Brady told The Oregonian that Reinoehl then ran to a station wagon parked near the residential complex, and officers fired rounds into the vehicle to try to stop him.
The car was boxed in by officers’ vehicles, so Reinoehl opened its driver’s side door and began to run, Brady said. He again showed a gun and four officers opened fire, according to the sheriff. Reinoehl died at the scene.
The attempt to arrest him came after the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service tracked him down in the wake of an arrest warrant being issued earlier in the day. A local fugitive task force for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department had joined the U.S Marshals to locate Reinoehl.
Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Reinoehl was spotted, apparently armed, exiting an apartment, The Olympian reports.
“The suspect came out to the car. They attempted to put him into custody and shots were fired,” Troyer was quoted saying.
Reinoehl had reportedly pulled out his weapon while attempting to flee.
Reinoehl, a 48-year-old anti-fascist activist who was a fixture at recent anti-racism demonstrations in Portland, was accused of gunning down Aaron J. Danielson, 39, last Saturday after clashes erupted between Trump supporters and counter-protesters.
In an interview with Vice News published shortly before his death, Reinoehl spoke publicly for the first time on the shooting and said, “I had no choice.”
“I mean, I had a choice, I could’ve sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that,” he said.
The shooting of Danielson was seized on by President Trump and many of his supporters as they sought to portray Trump as the “law and order” candidate in the Nov. 3 election, determined to prevent the kind of violence he claimed his opponent, Joe Biden, would usher in throughout the country.
At the same time news broke of Reinoehl’s death late Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Why aren’t the Portland Police ARRESTING the cold blooded killer of Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson. Do your job, and do it fast. Everybody knows who this thug is. No wonder Portland is going to hell!”
The Oregon state medical examiner concluded that Danielson died of a gunshot wound to the chest amid a scuffle between demonstrators attached to the right-wing group Patriot Prayer and leftist counter-demonstrators. An amateur video of the shooting shows an intense but ill-lit altercation breaking out on Southwest Third Avenue just prior to the sound and smoke of two gunshots.
The deadly dispute followed months of increasingly visible and violent clashes in the Pacific Northwestern city between the most radical supporters of Trump and a wide range of Black Lives Matter and other activists.
Reinoehl, a self-described snowboarding instructor, had a fraught personal and social media history, records show. He appeared to have had a number of issues with landlords and with traffic and tax authorities and—this summer—faced multiple misdemeanor charges, two of them firearm-related. One of them, from July 5, appears to result from an incident in which Reinoehl allegedly brought a gun to an anti-racist protest, resisted arrest, and interfered with police activities. But it appears local prosecutors never filed a criminal complaint, and the case was dropped.
The other weapons charge came out of an arrest roughly one month earlier, when Oregon state troopers charged Reinoehl with racing his 17-year-old son on Interstate 84 at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The authorities alleged that both were operating vehicles under the influence, and that the father was carrying prescription drugs, marijuana, and a loaded Glock handgun for which Reinoehl did not have a permit. The elder man also had his 11-year-old daughter in his car with him at the time of his arrest, according to police.
It is unclear how Reinoehl intended to plead to these allegations, as he failed to appear at his arraignment on July 8, resulting in the issuing of a warrant, according to court records.
Reinoehl’s social media accounts are rife with images of the Oregon wilderness and himself and his children participating in extreme sports, particularly skateboarding and snowboarding, the latter of which he claims to have taught professionally.
There is also substantial political content. His Facebook “Likes” range widely, from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to a measure to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms to a page called “Antifa United.” Despite his association with Antifa, a movement or set of organizing tactics whose practitioners often disdain electoral politics, Reinoehl was registered to vote as a Democrat at a home in Portland.
Owners of the property did not respond to a request for comment.
Reinoehl was even more explicit about his stances on Instagram. He shared numerous memes and statements supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, as well as photos and videos from demonstrations. He also shared a screengrab from a text exchange in which he indicated to another person that he was “ready” for an unspecified “patriot” group that intended to demonstrate in Portland on July 4.
In a widely quoted post on June 16, he had asserted his allegiance to the far edges of the anti-racist movement.
“Every Revolution needs people that are willing and ready to fight,” it reads. “I am 100% ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters! Even if some of them are too ignorant to realize what antifa truly stands for. We do not want violence but we will not run from it either! If the police continue to pick on and beat up innocent citizens that are peacefully voicing their objections, it must be met with equal force!”
His most recent post, a video from a July 4 protest, included the decidedly more mainstream caption, “Fuck Donald Trump.”
In an interview with The Oregonian, his sister, who reported identifying him to the police after the shooting, described her brother as “impulsive and irrational.”
Nonetheless, she characterized his conduct as surprising.
“We always thought he is a lot of bark, not a lot of bite,” she told the local news outlet.