Candles, tears, rifles at vigil for slain Vancouver man

Clark County

Clark County Sherriff Chuck Akins said deputies shot and killed an armed man Thursday night

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Tensions and emotions were high as hundreds of people gathered for a vigil in Hazel Dell one night after a man was shot and killed by Clark County deputies.

According to information posted online, Safe PDX organized the candlelight vigil, which began at 7 p.m. outside the US Bank in the 6800 block of NE Highway 99. Hundreds of people left signs and candles and gathered around the family as they paid tribute to Kevin Peterson Jr.

While the vigil itself was peaceful, clashes broke out in the streets between Black Lives Matter protesters and people carrying Trump flags.

A couple of hours before the vigil began, people gathered a few blocks away to wave American flags, Blue Lives Matter flags and Trump flags. Many said they showed up to support local law enforcement while others said they were there to protect businesses and properties in case a riot broke out. One man said they wanted to keep their distance from those at the vigil out of respect for their right to peacefully assemble.

A KOIN 6 News crew at the scene observed people on both sides carrying weapons, throwing projectiles and someone used pepper spray at one point. Someone from the BLM group yelled that a 3-year-old had been sprayed.

After the vigil, roughly 300 people gathered at Esther Short Park and then marched downtown, according to Vancouver police. Law enforcement officials arrived at the scene shortly after 10 p.m. as people blocked NE 72nd and Highway 99. There were reports that two fires had been started in dumpsters.

Police said after midnight the “group became more aggressive” when people started throwing rocks. A crowd dispersal order was given. Vancouver police also reported that there were shots fired into the air around the same time and said no one was injured as a result. It is unclear who was responsible.

Shortly before 1 a.m., a second disbursement order was given and the group began to spread out. Police said six people were arrested for Failure to Disperse.

Kevin Peterson Jr.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said its deputies were involved in a shooting just before 6 p.m. Thursday near the 6800 block of NE Highway 99. Sheriff Chuck Akins said detectives with the Clark-Vancouver Drug Task Force were “conducting a narcotics investigation when a foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm.”

This August 2018 photo provided by Jake Thompson shows Kevin Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by law enforcement in Clark County, Wash., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The Clark County Sheriff’s office has not released any details on the Thursday evening shooting. (Jake Thompson via AP)

“The information that I have is that upon entering the parking lot of the bank, the man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene.”

Battle Ground Chief of Police Mike Fort later confirmed the identity of the man who was killed as Kevin E. Peterson Jr. of Vancouver.

Peterson was suspected of selling illegal drugs in the parking lot of the Quality Inn motel when officers and deputies approached him and he fled, according to Battle Ground police. Fort pulled out a gun during the ensuing foot chase, causing police to back off, authorities said. He later came across three Clark County deputies, all of whom fired their weapons. Police said a Glock model 23, 40 caliber pistol was found near the deceased by independent crime scene investigators.

Protests erupted near the US Bank almost immediately after the shooting and continued through Friday. People chanted “Say his name” and “Black lives matter” among other things at the edge of the police tape. Protests continued as Clark County deputies’ SUVs were lined up and blocking the roads. Deputies were in riot gear and helmets.

A small memorial was also formed at the site.

“It honestly could have been everybody and it’s unfortunate it’s him,” said Daniel Thompson, who left flowers. “I want to come out here and show respect to him. KP, I want to say his name.”

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