VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — One week after a 39-year-old armed supporter of Patriot Prayer was shot to death at a Portland protest, friends held a memorial for him at Esther Short Park in Vancouver.
Hundreds of people gathered in the park for the vigil for Aaron “Jay” Danielson that began with live music at 4 p.m. People in the crowd handed out American flags while some others barbequed.
“We’re here to celebrate Jay’s life,” said Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, who was the first to address the crowd.
“I don’t want to see one person—I don’t want to see anybody encourage any acts of violence in the name of Jay. I don’t want to see one person going to Portland and declare one act of violence in the name of Jay—not one,” said Gibson.
He said there were two directions to go in, in response to Jay’s death: “you can either allow this to make you more courageous in your life…or you can allow that death to further you in a life of fear. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick and tired of us living a life in fear.”
The other speakers that followed echoed sentiments that Jay was a patriot, and not a fascist or white supremacist. After roughly an hour of speeches and prayer, music returned.
Chandler Pappas, who according to the probable cause document was with Danielson when he was shot to death, said Danielson “was a unifier. He was compassionate. He was loving and caring.”
Pappas spoke to those assembled in Esther Short Park and said he appreciated “every single one of you who came out here tonight to come together in solidarity for Jay. I appreciate you. I appreciate you more than you could know.”
Michele Lakey, who said she met Danielson at a Patriot Prayer event 5 years ago, said he was kind to everyone and will be remembered for his smile.
Vancouver is the home base for Patriot Prayer and Gibson.
The August 29 shooting during the escalating violence at dueling right-wing vs. left-wing protests eventually left 2 men dead. Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, was shot and killed near a pro-Trump rally and counter-protest downtown. The man suspected of the killing, Michael Reinoehl, was killed by federal agents as they tried to apprehend him in Lacey, Washington Thursday night.
Court documents released Friday and obtained by KOIN 6 News show both Danielson and Reinoehl were armed. Danielson had a Glock loaded with a 19-round clip, had 3 additional clips in his pants pockets, plus a can of bear mace and an expandable baton. In an interview with Vice News, Reinoehl admitted shooting Danielson. The autopsy said a .380 caliber bullet was the fatal shot.
On Friday, Facebook removed the pages of both Gibson and Patriot Prayer, labeling the right-wing group a “Violent Social Militia.”
This memorial falls on the 100th consecutive day of protests in Portland that began May 29 after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
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