PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators with the Portland Police Bureau have identified the man killed Saturday night near where a pro-Trump caravan rally and counterprotesters were clashing.
The man’s identity was confirmed as Aaron J. Danielson of Portland by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office Monday. According to officials, the manner in which Danielson, 39, died was homicide and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.
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 Danielson, was seen on the ground and the suspect took off running.
Police confirmed just before 9:30 p.m. that the victim, who was shot in the chest, had died. According to the Associated Press, Danielson was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.
In the two hours following the shooting, protesters gathered downtown and there was sporadic fighting and vandalism, police said. Some gave speeches in Lownsdale Square Park before the protest petered out.
Longtime friends of Danielson spoke out Monday evening to give the community a sense of who Danielson was. They explained to members of the media from the steps of the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park that Danielson owned a specialty moving company in Portland for 19 years and was the kind of person who always wanted to help people.
“There are countless stories and more emerging every hour from all over the country about the kind and compassionate man who wore a smile and always had a kind word,” said Danielson’s friend and business partner, Luke Carillo. “We — his friends and family — see multiple false reports calling Jay everything from a radical to a racist and a fascist. Aaron Jay Danielson was not a radical, he was not a racist, and he was not a fascist.”
Carillo went on to describe his late friend as a man who was quick to crack a joke and offer a hug; a person who loved his country and his city and his neighbors.
“He was not an inciter or an instigator; he was a freedom-loving American who died expressing his beliefs — a right which is guaranteed to all of us in the Constitution,” Carillo said. “We ask now that Portland, Oregon, and the entire country stand and renounce any further acts of violence. No family or friend should every have to deal with this type of loss for any reason at all, period.”
Another friend, who only wanted to go by his first name Michael, spoke of the hope he and Danielson’s loved ones have that justice will be served.
“We believe that the Portland Police Bureau is going to do everything in their power to bring the person who did this to justice and that’s precisely what we want for our friend,” he said.