PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A rally featuring right-wing activists and some members of the group Patriot Prayer quickly unraveled Saturday afternoon after witnesses reported at least two shots fired downtown.
In a statement hours later, Portland police said that while they were aware of the rally, they were “unaware of any evidence that there was gunfire.”
The rally, which began around 12:30 p.m., started with alt-right group members standing in front of the Justice Center in downtown Portland. There were roughly 30 people in attendance for what some described as a protest against Antifa, while others said it was a Back the Blue demonstration. Several members of the group were armed with firearms; however, it is unclear what kind they were.
Meantime, Black Lives Matter counter-protesters had also gathered across the street.
A chase ensued around 1:15 p.m. through nearby downtown streets that led to both groups clashing. At one point, someone used pepper spray and another person used a paintball gun.
Counter-protesters blocked off an exit outside of a parking garage where several members of the self-described group of “Patriots” had parked their cars.
At 2 p.m., KOIN 6 News photojournalist Robby Sherman tweeted that at least two gunshots rang out in the area. No one appeared to be injured.
“That was about 15-20 minutes ago. We were shot at, unprovoked,” said one man who witnessed the incident. “The police are still not here. Two live rounds and the police have still not shown up.”
A spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau said that while they had received reports of a scuffle, as well as the use of pepper spray and a paintball gun, they were “unaware of any evidence that there was gunfire.” Police said no one had reported being a victim of a crime, and that if anyone was victimized or had evidence of a crime, they were encouraged to report it for police to investigate.
In another statement released shortly before 8 p.m., Portland police clarified they had “few resources available throughout the city” as officers responded to an armed barricaded suspect in Forest Park.
An officer later took a report after someone was injured when a paintball fired from a paintball gun hit them in the face. However, police acknowledged the reports of shots fired, and asked “anyone who is a victim of a crime” to come forward.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story reported that “automatic weapons” were seen at the demonstration. It is unclear at this time what kind of firearm it was. Furthermore, an earlier version of this story identified the rally as a Patriot Prayer event. There were members of Patriot Prayer in attendance but it was not a Patriot Prayer event.