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Suspect In Portland, Ore., Shooting Is Killed By Law Enforcement


More details are coming in today about last night's shooting death of Michael Reinoehl, the man suspected of murdering a right-wing protester in Portland last week. Reinoehl was killed during a confrontation with a law enforcement fugitive task force. NPR's Martin Kaste has more.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: By late yesterday afternoon, there was little doubt that Reinoehl was the lead suspect in last weekend's fatal shooting of Aaron Danielson in Portland. Vice News had just released a videotaped interview with Reinoehl in which he all but admitted to the shooting, calling it self-defense. A court issued a warrant for his arrest. And then, sometime after 7:00 p.m., emergency dispatchers in southwestern Washington state started to get calls from, quote, "hysterical residents" in the town of Lacey.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DISPATCHER #1: People are running all over, saying they heard about five or six shots. There are a possible 10 subjects outside right now.

KASTE: Within a minute or so, the confusion started to lift as the local dispatchers got word of what was going on.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE DISPATCHER #2: Just for information, this may be the U.S. marshals. They were looking for a suspect in a shooting from Portland. But they were just on the line with my partner.

KASTE: The marshals were leading a fugitive task force that included local and state officers. The agencies involved say they were trying to, quote, "peacefully arrest" Reinoehl. He appeared to be trying to flee in a station wagon, and they say he, quote, "produced a firearm," reportedly a semiautomatic handgun, which led to him being shot. The Thurston County Sheriff's Office, which was not involved in the operation, is now investigating.

The sheriff's office tells NPR that there were no body cameras or dashboard cameras present on the scene. Given the highly politicized atmosphere surrounding this case, that may prove to be unfortunate. Earlier today, Attorney General William Barr released a congratulatory statement, calling the tracking down of Reinoehl, quote, "a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities."

To many on the far-left in Portland, this looks suspiciously like a government execution of a self-identified member of antifa. Execution is the word that they're using online. The far-right, on the other hand, is echoing the administration's theme of law and order. All of this has the rest of Portland on edge. The far-left and the far-right both have martyrs now, and there are competing protests and rallies planned throughout the long weekend - what many in the city fear to be a recipe for yet more violence.

Martin Kaste, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TORRES SONG, "TWO FUTURES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.