LACEY, Wash. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Oregon, last week was killed Thursday as investigators moved in to arrest him, a senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press.
The man, Michael Reinoehl, 48, was killed as a federal task force attempted to apprehend him in Lacey, Washington, the official said. 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.
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.
Federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service had located Reinoehl on Thursday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. During the encounter, Reinoehl was shot by a law enforcement officer who was working on the federal task force, the official said.
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’s reported 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.”
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.
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 also is 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.
KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.