RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A murder suspect wanted in connection with a shooting in Portland, Ore., was killed by law enforcement last night near Olympia in Washington State. Michael Forest Reinoehl was 48 years old and a self-identified anti-fascist protester. He was wanted for allegedly killing a far-right-wing demonstrator last weekend. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Conrad Wilson has been covering this story and joins us on the line from Portland.
Conrad, good morning.
CONRAD WILSON, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: What do we know at this point about what happened last night?
WILSON: Well, yesterday, a judge here in Portland issued an arrest warrant for Michael Reinoehl. The warrant was for the murder of a supporter of a far-right-wing group who had been in a protest last Saturday. According to the U.S. Marshal Service, around 7:30 last evening, they tried to arrest Reinoehl near Olympia, which is about two hours north of Portland.
The marshals say they attempted to peacefully arrest him but that he had a firearm and threatened the lives of law enforcement officers. The officers then shot Reinoehl. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the marshals, no law enforcement officers were injured. And we should just say that, you know, many - there are many details we don't know yet about what's happened. And, you know, it's very much a developing story.
MARTIN: Right. And all of this happened on the same night VICE News actually aired an interview with Reinoehl, right? What did we learn from that?
WILSON: Yeah. So let's go back to Saturday night. Reinoehl was involved in racial injustice protests in Portland. This was the same day as a massive caravan of vehicles drove through and around Portland in support of President Trump. Reinoehl told VICE News that he saw this caravan and headed downtown. So you have this environment with left and right-wing protesters coming together. Reinoehl was in the middle of it, on the side of the racial injustice protesters.
And in the interview, he appears to confirm that he shot at someone. That person was Aaron J. Danielson, a supporter of this far-right-wing regional political group called Patriot Prayer. They've engaged in violence during Portland protests since 2016, when they were established. And here's what Reinoehl told VICE.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MICHAEL REINOEHL: I felt that my life and other people around me's (ph) lives were in danger. And I felt like I had no choice but to do what I did.
WILSON: He went on to say he realized what he did. And he said he was confident that he, quote, "did not hit anyone innocent."
MARTIN: What do we know about Michael right now?
WILSON: Well, as you said at the top, he was 48 years old. He had two children. He was estranged from his mother and sister. I spoke to his sister last night. And even though they hadn't spoken in years, she was clearly very upset.
More recently, Reinoehl faced a series of criminal charges. Police reports from June show that in rural Oregon, he was pulled over for reckless driving, going more than a hundred miles per hour. The trooper who pulled him over found a handgun for which he didn't have a concealed handgun license. The trooper also found unidentified prescription pills and cannabis. Reinoehl was arrested for a DUI at the time. And a month later, Reinoehl was cited in downtown Portland by police for interfering with an officer and possession of a loaded firearm in a public place.
MARTIN: So all this comes as the protests continue in Portland, right? What's happening with those now?
WILSON: Yeah. We're coming up with a hundredth night of protests. There are concerns about potential violence this weekend. There's a memorial for the Patriot Prayer supporter who was killed last weekend. And because there's a similar rally of Trump supporters scheduled for Monday on Labor Day, you know, the real worry is that these two killings - you know, someone supporting the far left, another supporting the far right - will inflame an already very tense political situation here and potentially across the country.
You know, Portland's mayor, the police chief, Oregon's governor are pleading with people to stop the violence. But no one seems to have a plan on how to end it.
MARTIN: Conrad Wilson from Oregon Public Broadcasting.
WILSON: You're welcome.
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