Michael Reinoehl, the Oregon self-declared anti-fascist who attended Black Lives Matter demonstrations and was under investigation for the shooting death of a pro Trump supporter named Aaron Danielson, was killed in an encounter with a federal task force, The New York Times and local journalists are reporting.
The news of Reinoehl’s 7 p.m. death (Pacific time) broke just hours after Vice aired an interview in which Reinoehl claimed he shot Danielson in self defense. His death occurred before President Donald Trump, who was the subject of Reinoehl’s frequent ire on social media, wrote on Twitter around 11:30 p.m. on the east coast: “Why aren’t the Portland Police ARRESTING the cold blooded killer of Aaron ‘Jay’ Danielson. Do your job, and do it fast. Everybody knows who this thug is. No wonder Portland is going to hell! @TheJusticeDept @FBI.”
“Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement. “Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Video emerged of the Reinoehl shooting scene. Be forewarned that there’s graphic language in it, and Reinoehl’s body is visible from a distance. “Damn they were not playing. I think he’s dead,” Jashon Spencer, who is recording the video, says. “I was sitting in my back yard and all I heard was pop pop pop pop. I came outside and there was a million sheriff out here and this dude lying by the mailbox. He’s bleeding. They hit him. Damn. That’s crazy.”
“Yeah two cars pulled together, and I think one got killed from the car,” a little girl tells a police officer in the video.
Danielson was shot during conflict between Black Lives Matter supporters and a pro-Trump caravan that rolled through Portland the previous weekend.
“There was a political rally involving a vehicle caravan that traveled through Portland for several hours,” Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said in a previous news conference about Danielson’s shooting, which was captured on graphic video. “There were some skirmishes between rally goers and counter demonstrators, and police made several arrests. The caravan covered miles of area, and officers responded to different locations as identified problems arose and provided a presence and even made arrests when warranted.”
The vehicle caravan had already cleared the area when the shooting occurred. Officers are still gathering information to determine what “led up to this death.”
People “are free to disagree but criminal activity, especially violence, is out of bounds,” the police chief said in a previous news conference.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Reinoehl Was Killed as a Federal Task Force Moved In & a Neighbor Heard 30-40 Shots
According to the New York Times, Reinoehl is dead. He was killed in Lacey, Washington, when “a federal fugitive task force moved to apprehend him.”
Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza “has confirmed that a man was shot by US Marshals in the 7600 block of 3rd Way Southeast in Tanglewilde about 7 p.m.” on September 3, The Olympian reported.
Listen to the initial scanner audio here:
According to the scanner audio, medics were being called. A dispatcher said that Pierce County called and said shots were fired, but the scene was secured. Additional audio captures a dispatcher saying the shooting involved U.S. Marshals and, “They were looking in a suspect in a shooting from Portland.”
The Olympian story said that a neighbor “saw two SUVs pull up parallel to one another — one on 3rd Way and one in an alley and then heard shots, saw gun smoke from the right said and then several shots almost instantly from the left side.” The neighbor told the Olympian he heard 30-40 shots.
“Law enforcement sources confirm shooter suspected of killing Aaron Danielson in Portland last weekend was just killed in Lacey, Washington by task force involving U.S. Marshals, Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies and Department of Corrections. More details to come,” Preston Phillips, of KOMO-TV, reported. “According to Pierce County Sheriff, task force made up of U.S. Marshals, Pierce Co. Sheriff’s Deputies and Dept. of Corrections Officers went to home in Lacey to find suspect in connection with Saturday’s deadly shooting of Aaron Danielson in Portland.”
He wrote that it started as a traffic stop: “Officers made a traffic stop on a vehicle, shots were fired and the man suspected of killing Aaron Danielson was killed. No officers were hurt. Since this happened in Thurston County, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency on the incident investigation.”
District Attorney Mike Schmidt said on Sept. 4:
“The events of Thursday night are still being investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies. We still do not have a full understanding of what led to the death of Michael Forest Reinoehl. The loss of life is tragic. It has a profound impact on families, friends and community members. The apprehension of a fugitive, in particular one under investigation for murder, is especially dangerous for law enforcement. I am thankful that no one else was injured or killed during last night’s incident in Lacey, Washington, and I appreciate the coordination between law enforcement agencies throughout this investigation.”
According to The New York Times, Danielson was “affiliated with a right-wing group.” He was shot and killed on August 29 “as a large group of supporters of President Trump traveled in a caravan through downtown Portland.” Oregon Live described the group, Patriot Prayer, as “a loosely organized right-wing group that has repeatedly been involved in brawls with left-wing antifascist groups.” Reinoehl had been charged with murder in the shooting death of Danielson.
The group Danielson was affiliated with was part of a “pro-Trump rally,” The Times reported, which drew “hundreds of trucks full of supporters into the city.”
The Times reported that Trump supporters and counter-protesters “clashed on the streets, with people shooting paintball guns from the beds of pickup trucks and protesters throwing objects back at them.”
Graphic photos emerged of Danielson’s body lying at the scene. He was wearing a baseball cap with the words Patriot Prayer written on a flag. One photo shows heavily armed police officers coming to his aid. KGW-com reports that a “bear deterrent spray can that had been hit by a bullet” was near Danielson’s body along with an “extendable baton, which Danielson was seen in security footage holding in his hands before the shooting.” He had a loaded gun in his waistband.
The television station said what led up to the shooting is still not clear, with some witnesses saying others “were aggressors toward Danielson” and another claiming Reinoehl and another person “were hiding and appeared to square off with Pappas and Danielson.”
Heavy blurred Danielson’s face in the above photos.
“Jay is my beloved friend,” a woman wrote on Facebook. “I am beside myself. More importantly, please please be safe.”
2. Reinoehl Railed Against Trump on Social Media & Told Vice He ‘Had No Choice’
Reinoehl railed against President Donald Trump and the police in expletive-laden posts, was named by a major Oregon newspaper as the man under investigation in the shooting death of Aaron Danielson, the man who was shot and killed in Portland after a pro-Trump caravan broke down. The victim was affiliated with a conservative group called Patriot Prayer, which has engaged in counter demonstrations, and he was helping the caravan with security.
Oregon Live gave the suspect’s name as Michael Forest Reinoehl, although he had not been arrested or charged and police had not confirmed that he’s a target of the investigation.
That came afterVice reported that Reinoehl was making a self defense claim, saying he believed he and a friend were going to be stabbed. “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,” he told Vice. “But I wasn’t going to do that.”
He told Vice that he was a “former military contractor and father of two” who provided “security” for Black Lives Matter protests.
Eight weeks ago, Reinoehl wrote on Instagram, “Happy black lives matters day!!! #blacklivesmatter #breonnataylor #anewnation.” On July 4, he shared a video of a demonstration on Instagram, writing, “F*** Donald Trump #blacklivesmatter #breonnataylor #anewnation.” The video shows people chanting “F*** Donald Trump.” It also contains repeated use of a racial slur, although it’s not clear who is saying it. Another photo on Instagram shows a demonstrator on a statue with the words “No Gestapo” painted on it. “😂 he replaced the statue,” wrote Reinoehl. He also wrote:
Every Revolution needs people that are willing and ready to fight. There are so many of us protesters that are just protesting without a clue of where that will lead. That’s just the beginning that’s where the fight starts. If that’s as far as you can take it thank you for your participation but please stand aside and support the ones that are willing to fight. I am 100% ANTIFA all the way! I am willing to fight for my brothers and sisters! Even if some of them are too ignorant to realize what antifa truly stands for. We do not want violence but we will not run from it either! If the police continue to pick on and beat up innocent citizens that are peacefully voicing their objections, it must be met with equal force! We are currently living through a crucial point in Humanities evolution. We truly have an opportunity right now to fix everything. But it will be a fight like no other! It will be a war and like all wars there will be casualties. I was in the army and I hated it. I did not feel like fighting for them would ever be a good cause. Today’s protesters and antifa are my brothers in arms. This is a Cause to fight for This truly is fighting for my country! I have children that need to live in a world run by Common Sense and human decency. And I will do anything to make sure that happens. Now is the time to change the course of humanity. If we fold now just because they show some Force we will be lost for another hundred years. And I don’t think the planet will let us live that long if we don’t straighten shit up. Please be safe strong and United. I love you all❤️💪🙏
#Antifa #blaklivesmatter #f***thepolice
In one Instagram photo, Reinoehl, 48, showed off a “battle scar” from a demonstration. Multiple photos show protests and riots. “Juneteenth Portland Oregon #f***thepolice #blaklivesmatter,” he wrote with one picture. “Hands up don’t shoot!” he wrote with another. “Elmo says make sure you stock up on condoms cuz it’s time to f*** the system,” said another post.
Danielson, who is also being called Jay Bishop by some, was identified as the man who was shot and killed after the caravan broke down in Portland, Oregon, according to a leader of Patriot Prayer and The Oregonian/Oregon Live. He was affiliated with Patriot Prayer and wearing a hat with its name when shot. Trump retweeted a post that called Danielson “Jay Bishop.”
You can see photos and videos of the shooting death and its aftermath in this story, but be aware they are very graphic and disturbing.
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this video compilation:
Here’s what you need to know:
3. Graphic Videos Emerged Showing the Shooting Happened on a Sidewalk at Close Range
Graphic photos emerged of Danielson’s body lying at the scene. Be forewarned that the pictures are very disturbing. A video, which is also disturbing, appears to show a person open fire at close range as Danielson walks down the street and another shows people tending to Danielson. You can watch them below, but they are very graphic. The New York Times reported that it appeared from a video that “Danielson sprayed mace just as two gunshots could be heard, and Mr. Danielson went down.”
There’s a lot of confusion about the victim’s name. One video shows a person rushing up to Danielson, referring to him as “Jay.” A lot of confusion erupted on social media over the different names; however, he’s referred to as Aaron “Jay” Danielson in an approved GoFundMe campaign and as Jay by a friend in a graphic video from the scene. Some on social media claimed he used a pseudonym to protect himself from antifa, although that was not confirmed. Confusing matters, people are sharing the criminal history of a different Jay Bishop who isn’t the man who died. An apparently fake GoFundMe account in Jay Bishop’s name was taken down, confusing people more. Although it’s clear he did go by the name Jay at times, it’s not clear whether Danielson ever used Bishop.
According to Oregon Live, after the caravan broke down, “altercations broke out.” The newspaper described Danielson as a “friend and supporter” of Patriot Prayer, which is based in Vancouver, and The New York Times described him as “affiliated with a right-wing group.” Oregon Live described the organization as “a right-wing organization that for years staged regular protests in Portland.”
Portland has been the focal point of unrest since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Conflicts between Trump and local officials over federal law enforcement’s presence in the city have generated headlines. Danielson’s death caused a verbal clash between Trump and Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler over who is to blame.
According to Oregon Live, Danielson may have “used some type of mace or pepper spray” before being shot. It’s not clear what provoked the confrontation. A tattoo was visible on the gunman’s body in some photos. Police have not formally released Reinoehl’s name nor identified him as a suspect. The Oregon newspaper stopped short of that, saying he was under investigation. The newspaper said his sister identified Reinoehl as being the gunman from screenshots circulating around.
Reinoehl’s identity was first pinpointed by online message boards.
According to the Portland Tribune, Danielson “arrived with an associate hours earlier at a suburban mall in order to offer make-shift security services for the caravan of Trump supporters.” The newspaper described that associate as Chandler Pappas. They were “both wearing matching Patriot Prayer hats, visibly armed with paint ball guns, knives and bearing other tactical gear,” according to the newspaper.
The man believed to be Danielson said in an interview, according to that newspaper, “We’re all about independent journalism. Andy Ngo has been assaulted for being an independent journalist, he’s not even right-leaning. The Overton Window has been pushed so far to the left, that like normalcy seems-.” He was then cut off. The newspaper described the Overton Window as “a concept used in political theory to describe the range of ideas acceptable in public discourse.”
According to the Portland Tribune, Pappas showed up with a paintball gun at a “dueling counter protest” at Gresham City Hall three days before and said, “I came here ready for war. … I’ll drop you on your f****** head.”
4. Reinoehl Describes Himself as a Snowboarder & Liked Bernie Sanders’ Page on Facebook; He Shared a Message in July Promising to Be Ready for an Armed Patriot Group
On July 3, Reinoehl shared a text message that said, “Hey Mike, I’ve been getting word from a Patriot group on Facebook that the 4th of July, they are taking back the cities. They might probably are hostile w arms. Watch your and your friends back and don’t get cought in a crossfire.”
The response: “Thank you my friend we are ready.”
The suspect filled his Facebook page with pictures of kids and artwork. He wrote that his son was “ready for some urban snowboarding.” Another picture was labeled, “Sunrise this morning downtown Portland.”
One photo was captioned, “I just couldn’t resist having a little Mary Jane tonight.” Along with a picture of him snowboarding, his son wrote, “my dad rocks.” Another caption read, “I got to take my son to go see Airborne Toxic Event that was awesome.”
He showcased photos of himself on a snowboard.
He liked Bernie Sanders’ Facebook page.
However, it’s on Instagram where he’s recently gone very political, filling his page with Black Lives Matter declarations and demonstrations and making angry statements against the police and Trump.
“Snowboarder for deviation ski and snowboards AKA best custom boards on the planet,” he wrote on his Instagram profile. He declared with one protest photo, “peacefully educating and celebrating. downtown PDX.”
5. Reinoehl Was Recently Accused of Driving Under the Influence After Being Spotted Racing With His Teenage Son With a Gun in His Car
A June 2020 story in the Baker City Herald reported that Reinohl, of Clackamas, “and his teenage son were both arrested early Monday after an Oregon State Police trooper saw the pair apparently racing at over 100 mph in separate vehicles on Interstate 84 near North Powder.”
The article indicated Reinoehl is 48 and was “charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance, recklessly endangering another person and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was also cited for driving while uninsured, driving while suspended, and for speeding.”
The story says an officer found “a loaded, concealed Glock pistol for which Reinoehl did not have a concealed handgun license.”
His teenage son faced charges of “driving under the influence of marijuana and unlawful possession of a firearm,” the newspaper reported.
The shooting death of Aaron “Jay” Danielson drew the president’s attention.
“Rest In Peace Jay!” Trump wrote on Twitter on August 30. He retweeted a post by a Trump supporter that read,
This is Jay Bishop.
He was a good American that loved his country and Backed the Blue.
Flag of United States
He was murdered in Portland by ANTIFA.
Jay, we will never forget you.
Rest In Peace my friend.
Wheeler, Portland’s mayor, said in a news conference, “This afternoon my heart is heavy. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the man who was killed last night on the streets of our city. I mourn with you.”
He pledged to hold accountable “those who are responsible.” He denounced “the violence” and said it “doesn’t matter who you are and what your politics are, we need to all stop the violence.”
Wheeler urged people not to come to seek “retribution” and to “stay away to deescalate this situation.”
However, Wheeler’s further comments provoked controversy and a strong retort from the president.
In the press conference, Wheeler strongly criticized Trump for everything from rhetorical attacks on “Democratic mayors” to former Republican Senator John McCain. “Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It is you who have created the hate and division,” Wheeler said.
“It is you who have not said the names of Black people who were killed by police officers. … It’s you who claim that white supremacists are good people.” He called Trump “anti-Democratic.” He said America needs “for you to be stopped,” referring to Trump.
He said the people at the pro-Trump caravan rally “were supported and energized by the president himself. President Trump, for four years, we’ve had to live with you and your racist attacks against Black people. We learned early of your sexist attitudes toward women.”
Trump retweeted an author/comedian’s tweeted that read, “Hey Ted Wheeler, Nobody believes that Trump hurting your feelings with mean words is why ANTIFA is burning Portland to the ground.”
The president countered:
Ted Wheeler, the wacky Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Mayor of Portland, who has watched great death and destruction of his City during his tenure, thinks this lawless situation should go on forever. Wrong! Portland will never recover with a fool for a Mayor….He tried mixing with the Agitators and Anarchists and they mocked him. He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn’t seen anything yet. We have only been there with a small group to defend our U.S. Courthouse, because he couldn’t do it…..The people of Portland, like all other cities & parts of our great Country, want Law & Order. The Radical Left Democrat Mayors, like the dummy running Portland, or the guy right now in his basement unwilling to lead or even speak out against crime, will never be able to do it! LAW & ORDER!!!
According to Oregon Live, Reinoehl was previously accused of “carrying a loaded gun at an earlier downtown Portland protest.” Specifically, the newspaper reported, on July 5, he was “cited at 2:10 a.m. in the 700 block of Southwest Main Street on allegations of possessing a loaded gun in a public place, resisting arrest and interfering with police.” The accusations were dropped.
The newspaper reported that he said in a video interview with Bloomberg QuickTake News that he was “a professional snowboarder and contractor who has former military experience but ‘hated’ his time in the Army.”
Joey Gibson, of the group Patriot Prayer with which the victim was affiliated, wrote on Facebook, “I am getting a lot of questions so I thought I would make this post. 1st- We love Jay and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived. 2nd-I am going to wait to make any public statements until after the family can. 3rd- If you planned on going to the boat cruise, please go! I know that Jay would love to look down from heaven and see tons of American flags on the Columbia river today. I will not be attending but I hope all of you enjoy yourselves out there. Fly them high for Jay. God Bless all of you.”
Patriot Prayer has made the news before.
In January 2019, according to Oregon Live, police clarified that they found three rifles in a case on top of a downtown garage before a protest. The mayor had referred to it as a “cache of guns” and said they were tied to Patriot Prayer.
But police said they found four people on the parking garage with three rifles in cases, and they had concealed weapons permits and didn’t break laws or endanger the public.
According to Oregon Live, the men said they planned to “act as a quick extraction team” if a member of their group was injured during the protest.