PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A man who was suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland last week was killed by authorities on Thursday. A local acquaintance of the man and the US attorney general had harsh words for the self-proclaimed antifa sympathizer.
The man, 48-year-old Michael Reinoehl, was killed as a federal task force attempted to apprehend him in Lacey, Washington. Reinoehl was the prime suspect in the killing of 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who was shot in the chest Saturday night, the official said.
Reinoehl’s death comes the same day Vice News planned to air an interview during which Reinoehl’s appeared to admit to the shooting, saying, “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.”
Craig Gilbert was acquainted with Reinoehl. He runs Gilbert’s Tire Pros in Gresham and told KOIN 6 News Reinoehl was a customer for more than a decade. Gilbert said he was shocked when he saw the Vice News interview making its rounds on social media.
“You can’t shoot somebody in the chest and run off and then you get on that thing I saw on Facebook — the video with Vice and he’s talking like he was hunting — and we’re not animals,” said Gilbert. “Everybody’s got a right to do what they want if it’s peaceful; unfortunately it hasn’t been peaceful but you can’t walk up because somebody’s got a Patriot Prayer hat or Trump hat or whatever and shoot them in the chest. It’s wrong, we can’t act like this.”
Gilbert had no kind words for the customer he’d known for years.
“I’m heartbroken for his family, I have sympathy for the family,” he said. “I don’t have sympathy for him.”
The US Marshals Service told KOIN 6 News, “The fugitive task force located Reinoehl in Olympia and attempted to peacefully arrest him. Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”
On Saturday, KOIN 6 News crews witnessed two people yelling and having an altercation near SW 3rd and Alder around 8:45 p.m. Someone sprayed mace and then someone pulled out a gun. The crews heard shots fired, then a wounded man, later identified as Aaron J. Danielson, was seen on the ground and the suspect took off running.
Speculation circulated online about Reinoehl’s possible involvement in the shooting in the days that followed but law enforcement never publicly confirmed that he was suspect.
Federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service had located Reinoehl on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest earlier the same day. Detectives obtained the 2nd-degree murder warrant through a Multnomah County judge, according to the Portland Police Burea. The PPB said its officers worked with other law enforcement partners throughout the investigation but weren’t present as officials tried to arrest him in Washington.
During the encounter, Reinoehl was shot by a law enforcement officer who was working on the federal task force, a senior Justice Department official told the Associated Press.
According to a press release from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, a team of officers from the US Marshalls Service, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Lakewood Police Department, and the Washington Department of Corrections had been conducting surveillance outside an apartment in unincorporated Thurston County near Lacey, where they believed Reinoehl lived at.
At one point, Reinoehl reportedly left the apartment and got into his car. When the task force went to apprehend him, shots were fired into the car at the suspect and he began fleeing on foot. More shots were fired — and Reinoehl was declared dead.
The senior Justice Department official, who could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said Reinoehl had pulled a gun during the encounter. In the press release from TCSO, authorities did confirm the suspect was armed with a handgun.
No authorities were hurt during the incident.
Reinoehl had described himself in a social media post as “100% ANTIFA,” suggested the tactics of counter-protesters amounted to “warfare,” and had been shot at one protest and cited for having a gun at another.
He had been been a regular presence at anti-racism demonstrations in Portland.
Portland police said they want to interview a person who witnessed Danielson’s shooting in downtown Portland and need help identifying that person. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Rico Beniga at 503.823.0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A.G. Barr released the following statement on Friday morning:
“Last Saturday, Aaron “Jay” Danielson was shot and killed amid the continuing violence in Portland. Local authorities subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-described Antifa member suspected of the alleged murder. Reinoehl fled to Washington State, where he was located yesterday by members of a fugitive task force led by the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, and state and local law enforcement partners. When Reinoehl attempted to escape arrest and produced a firearm, he was shot and killed by law enforcement officers.
“The tracking down of Reinoehl — a dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer — is a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities. I applaud the outstanding cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement, particularly the fugitive task force team that located Reinoehl and prevented him from escaping justice. The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs.”
Police on July 5 cited Reinoehl on allegations of possessing a loaded gun in a public place, resisting arrest and interfering with police. On July 26, Reinoehl was shot near his elbow after he got involved in a scuffle between an armed white man and a group of young people of color. The man who was carrying the gun, Aaron Scott Collins, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he and a friend had just left a bar when they saw the group harassing an older Black man. His friend began filming them with a phone, and the group confronted them, calling them Nazis, he said.
Reinoehl later that day spoke to an AP videographer. His arm was wrapped in a bloody bandage; he said he was on his way to meet protest medics so they could change it.
He said he didn’t know what had started the altercation between Collins and the group, but that several people had decided to intervene when they saw Collins fighting with minors.
“As soon as the adults jumped in, he pulled out a gun,” Reinoehl said. “I jumped in there and pulled the gun away from people’s heads, avoided being shot in the stomach and I got shot in the arm.”
Reinoehl was also wanted on a warrant out of Baker County in Eastern Oregon, where court records show he skipped a hearing related to a June case in which he has been charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Police said he drove on an interstate at up to 111 mph, with his daughter in the car, while racing his 17-year-old son, who was in a different vehicle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.