A suspect who earlier appeared to admit to the fatal shooting of a man who was part of a pro-Trump caravan in Portland, Oregon, last weekend was himself killed during an attempted arrest on Thursday, officials said.
Michael Forest Reinoehl was fatally shot around 7:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. ET) in Olympia, Washington, as a federal task force tried to detain him, a U.S. Marshals Service spokesperson said. The task force included local law enforcement agencies, according to a local sheriff’s department official.
Reinoehl was a suspect in the killing of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, on Saturday, the Marshals Service confirmed. The New York Times first reported that Reinoehl, 48, had been killed.
The shooting in Portland occurred after skirmishes there between protesters and the caravan supporting President Donald Trump.
The founder of a far-right group called Patriot Prayer has said Danielson was a supporter of the group and participated in the pro-Trump motorcade.
The Marshals Service said Reinoehl was wanted on a charge of murder out of the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon.
“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,” the Marshals Service statement said.
“Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene,” the statement said.
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The sheriff in Thurston County, where Olympia is located, said in a statement Friday morning that it had been confirmed that the suspect had a firearm.
“We can confirm at this time that the suspect was armed with a handgun,” said the sheriff’s statement, which did not elaborate on whether the suspect brandished the weapon or fired it.
The statement said the fugitive task force staked out an apartment building where the suspect was staying near the Olympia suburb of Lacey on Thursday night.
“The wanted subject came out of the apartment and got into a vehicle to leave,” the statement said. “During the attempt to apprehend him, shots were fired at the suspect in the vehicle and he fled from the vehicle on foot.”
“Additional shots were fired at the suspect and he was later pronounced deceased at the location,” according to the sheriff’s statement, which withheld the suspect’s name and identified him only as a white male in his 40s.
The sheriff’s office said none of its deputies were present during the shooting, but it will lead a probe by several area law enforcement agencies into the incident.
There have been weeks of protests in Portland following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck in an incident that sparked outrage and demonstrations around the country.
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Earlier Thursday, Vice News published part of an interview with a man who said he was Reinoehl allegedly saying he acted in self-defense.
Reinoehl said he believed he and a friend were about to be stabbed, but Vice News acknowledged it had not been able to independently verify details of the account. What was published by Vice News at that time does not clearly say Danielson was involved in any threat.
Footage from the scene of the shooting showed a man on a skateboard or scooter approaching Danielson before two shots are heard. It is not clear whether Reinoehl acted in self-defense.
In the interview published by Vice News, the man who identified himself as Reinoehl says, “I am 100 percent anti-fascist. I am not a member of antifa. I’m not a member of anything.” Antifa is a loosely organized network of groups that use direct action to confront far-right and fascist groups.
April Reinoehl, who describes her relationship with brother Michael as “estranged,” told NBC News by text message Friday that he had a combatant’s worldview.
“He believed that the country is going to war,” she said. “He believed the war was here, and look at where that got him; where it got us. Two men are dead. He is one of them. Two families have been thrown into the chaos, and everyone seems more up in arms than ever.”
She urged peace.
“We can still choose peace, and we can change the course of things through open communication,” she said. “Somewhere along the way, I guess Michael lost sight of that.”