The man suspected in the shooting death of a far-right protester during a Portland rally was killed by authorities Thursday when law enforcement agents attempted to arrest him outside Lacey, Washington.
The Pierce County sheriff spokesman confirmed that 48-year-old Michael Forest Reinoehl, the suspect in the Portland shooting, was killed by a U.S. Marshals task force around 7 p.m. PST Thursday in an unincorporated area near Olympia, Washington, about two hours north of Portland; earlier that day, the Portland Police Bureau issued a warrant for Reinoehl’s arrest in connection to the shooting death of 39-year-old Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron Donaldson, the Olympian reports.
“The Portland Police Bureau had issued a warrant for his arrest earlier in the day and asked the U.S. Marshals to locate and apprehend the suspect,” U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Drew J. Wade said in a statement. “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. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”
According to law enforcement, the U.S. Marshals task force saw Reinoehl — who they said appeared to be armed — leaving an apartment and heading toward a vehicle. “The suspect came out to the car,” Thurston County sheriff’s lieutenant Ray Brady said. “They attempted to put him into custody and shots were fired.”
There was “a confrontation” and the task force fired shots into the vehicle, at which point Reinoehl ran from the car, the Olympian reports. The four arresting officers then fired more shots. Reinoehl was pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were injured in the incident.
While the officers at the scene said Reinoehl was armed, the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team – which is investigating the shooting – have not yet confirmed that. Per U.S. Marshals Service policy, the names of the four officers involved in the shooting — which included officers from the state Department of Corrections, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and Lakewood Police Department — won’t be revealed until the investigation is concluded.
Earlier in the day, Reinoehl appeared in a Vice News interview where he seemingly admitted to the Donaldson shooting but stated it was self-defense. “I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color, but I wasn’t going to do that,” he said. Reinoehl, a self-described member of Antifa, was a mainstay during the Portland Black Lives Matter protests, where he provided security and helped deescalate conflicts.
“He was literally a guardian angel,” Teal Lindseth, one of the organizers of the Portland protests, told the New York Times. “He would protect you no matter what.”
In the Vice News interview earlier in the day, Reinoehl said that, hours after the Donaldson shooting, shots were fired into his house, forcing him and his family to go into hiding. He also expressed concern that his life was in danger from far-right groups. “They’re out hunting me,” he said. “There’s nightly posts of the hunt and where they’re going to be hunting. They made a post saying the deer are going to feel lucky this year because it’s open season on Michael right now.”
Reinoehl added in the interview, “Honestly, I hate to say it, but I see a civil war right around the corner. That that shot felt like the beginning of a war.”