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What video analysis of the Aug. 29 Portland shooting tells us

The shooting death in Portland, Ore., on Saturday of Aaron J. Danielson came toward the end of a day of tense confrontations between backers of President Trump and Black Lives Matters protesters.

Danielson, 39, of Portland died of a gunshot wound to the chest, police said. Friends of Danielson, who also went by “Jay,” said that he was a supporter of the Patriot Prayer group — and that he was wearing a hat with the right-wing group’s insignia.

In an interview with “Vice News Tonight” that aired Thursday, Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, of Portland strongly implied he was the shooter, though if he said so directly, that was not shown.

The Washington Post examined live-stream footage and images to reconstruct events in the emerging narrative of how the two men came to be on the same downtown street and what happened.

Michael Forest Reinoehl gave an interview to Vice News that aired Sept. 3. (Video: Courtesy of Vice News)

Reinoehl was shot and killed in a confrontation with federal law enforcement Thursday, as they sought to take him into custody in Danielson’s shooting, the U.S. Marshals Service said. In recent social media posts, Reinoehl said he was “100% ANTIFA all the way!”

Ready to rally

In a mall parking lot in a suburb of Portland, Danielson walked through a crowd at 5:14 p.m., in a live-stream shot by Quincy Anatello, his friend and a preacher. Around him, throngs of pro-Trump demonstrators were getting ready to roll out in a caravan as part of an event advertised on Facebook, the “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally in Portland,” that was planned to take them around, but not into, the center of the city.

Quincy Anatello footage (Video: Sarah Cahlan/Quincy Anatello)

In an interview with The Post, Anatello identified Danielson in the footage taken in the parking lot of Clackamas Town Center, a roughly 15-mile drive from downtown.

Early clashes

About an hour after the convoy left the lot at 5 p.m., clashes between people in pickup trucks with Trump flags and protesters shouting slogans in support of Black Lives Matter occurred after a portion of the caravan entered the city’s downtown, according to numerous videos shared on social media.

Over the course of hours, pockets of sparring groups hurled insults, threw punches and deployed pepper spray. At times, counterprotesters blocked parts of streets. By 8:30 p.m., the spasms of violence that left multiple people injured subsided, and only remnants of the convoy remained downtown.

At 8:35 p.m., Cory Elia, a journalist, began filming from the corner of SW Third Avenue and SW Washington Street. In the video, a man in a vest and a white T-shirt talks with a man dressed in black.

Reinoehl placed himself at the scene in the interview with Vice News. He said that after speaking with friends that evening, he received a call suggesting he should come downtown as “security may be needed.”

The man in the vest appears to be Reinoehl, based on a video and image analysis by The Post. In the Vice News interview, Reinoehl has a tattoo of a black fist on his neck. The man in the vest has a similar tattoo in Elia’s Saturday video of the downtown Portland protests. published multiple images of a man it identifies as Reinoehl attending protests in Portland on Aug. 28, with the same tattoo and wearing the same shirt and vest as the man in the footage from Saturday.

In Elia’s video from Saturday, Reinoehl is seen pulling down his mask as he walks through traffic.

Cory Elia footage (Video: The Washington Post)

About 10 seconds later, a pickup truck with three young men standing in the bed approaches walking protesters when a man in the street with a megaphone shouts, “Black lives matter!”

Someone in the crowd reaches up and appears to try to pull down a flag from the driver’s side of the vehicle. Others in the street crowd pelt the truck with eggs.

On the street, Reinoehl places his right hand across his chest, cradling his left pocket.

A young man in a red baseball jersey standing in the truck bed reaches down into the bed. As he bends, the video shows Reinoehl tugging at something in his pocket.

The video pans to the truck as it drives through the intersection.

Cory Elia footage (Video: Sarah Cahlan/Cory Elia)

In a LinkedIn profile that has since been deleted, Reinoehl said he served four years in the U.S. Army before graduating from Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore., where he studied television production. He also described himself as a construction contractor and listed his current job as a snowboarding instructor.

An Army official said there are no records indicating Reinoehl served in the Army.

In recent social media posts, Reinoehl has expressed support for Black Lives Matter and protests over racial and criminal injustice in Portland, and has identified himself with antifa, a loose collection of activists who oppose fascism and have participated in violent protest. In a June 16 post on Instagram, Reinoehl urged fellow protesters to “please stand aside and support the ones that are willing to fight.”

In a video posted to the Bloomberg QuickTake YouTube account on July 27, a man who appears to be Reinoehl with a black fist tattoo on his neck identifies himself as a professional snowboarder named Michael.

The shooting

At 8:42 p.m., on a live stream to Facebook, Justin Dunlap, a 44-year-old lighting director, films the crowd in the intersection when the man with a megaphone announces that the group will head toward the Multnomah County Justice Center, which has been a focal point for protests. Reinoehl walks amid the group.

A block later on SW Third Avenue, Dunlap’s video shows early moments of the fatal encounter

At 8:45 p.m., Dunlap is on the northeast corner of Alder Street and Third Avenue when he turns the camera toward a confrontation between those headed toward the justice center and a group standing near a parking garage.

A second video filmed a few feet away from the parking garage entrance, uploaded to the YouTube account Stumptown Matters, begins just seconds before the filming captures this audio off-screen.

“Hey, hey, we got a couple right here! We got a couple right here! He Maced me. Pulled it out.” From the video posted to Stumptown Matters, it is unclear who is speaking, because the camera is aimed at the ground. Seconds later, the same video captures the sound of two gunshots.

In a livestream, Justin Dunlap captured the moment violence erupted in Portland on Aug. 29. (Video: Sarah Cahlan/Justin Dunlap)

Dunlap was filming in those same moments and turns toward the commotion. At 8:45 p.m., his video captures a cloud of white smoke and the sound of two gunshots.

Reinoehl backs away, right arm in the air, and turns to run. Danielson staggers in the opposite direction, takes 10 steps and collapses. In Dunlap’s live stream, white smoke lingers where the shooting took place.

After the shooting, in the video posted to Stumptown Matters, a man holding what appears to a metal canister rushes over to Danielson shouting, “Are you okay? Jay? No!” before turning him over. He drops the can and begins pressing his hands on the right side of Danielson’s chest.

Portland police officers in tactical gear arrive and quickly clear the area. The man who called Danielson by name runs off.

In an interview aired Thursday on “Vice News Tonight,” Reinoehl said he believed that he and a friend were in danger when Danielson was shot and killed. In the footage Vice aired, Reinoehl strongly implied he was the shooter, though if he said so directly, that was not shown. “I realized what had happened,” he said in the interview. “I was confident that I did not hit anyone innocent, and I made my exit.”

Michael Forest Reinoehl said he believed he and a friend were in danger when 39-year-old Aaron J. Danielson was shot and killed on Aug. 29. (Video: Courtesy of Vice News)

“Had I not acted, I am confident that my friend and, I’m sure, I would have been killed because I wasn’t going to stand there and let something happen,” Reinoehl told Vice News.

Chandler Pappas, in an interview posted Sunday to the YouTube account the Common Sense Conservative, said that he was a friend of Danielson’s and that he witnessed the shooting.

Photos of Danielson after the shooting show a blue-and-white Blue Lives Matter flag patch on a utility pouch strapped to his left thigh.

He was wearing a black hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer.

Dunlap reacts to a burning sensation in his eyes. “I’ve got Mace in my eyes,” he says. He and another person off camera can be heard coughing.

Justin Dunlap footage (Video: Sarah Cahlan/Justin Dunlap)

Portland police officers arrive about two minutes after the shooting. Medical personnel pronounced Danielson dead at the scene, police said.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Danielson died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Faiz Siddiqui and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this report placed Dunlap at the southwest corner of Alder Street and Third Avenue. He was on the northeast corner of that intersection.