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Portland Police Have Identified The Man Killed Following Clashes Between Trump Supporters And Protesters

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell has asked that people give the department time to investigate before drawing conclusions about what happened.

Last updated on September 1, 2020, at 1:43 p.m. ET

Posted on September 1, 2020, at 11:40 a.m. ET

A police officer wearing a helmet ties tape reading "POLICE TAPE DO NOT CROSS" around the crime scene while a squad car flashes its sirens in distant background
Nathan Howard / Getty Images

A Portland police officer ties a police line around the scene of the fatal shooting.

A man who was shot and killed following clashes between Trump supporters and anti-racism protesters in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday night has been identified as 39-year-old Aaron J. Danielson, a Portland resident.

In a Monday statement identifying Danielson, officers with the Portland Police Bureau said they were still working to put together a full picture of what happened before, during, and after the shooting.

"It is still early in this investigation, and I ask everyone to give the detectives time to do their important work before drawing conclusions about what took place," Police Chief Chuck Lovell said. "If anyone can provide information about this case, I ask them to please reach out to our detectives."

Portland Police Bureau

Aaron Danielson

Danielson appeared to have been at the protests with Patriot Prayer, a far-right pro-Trump group active in the Pacific Northwest that the Southern Poverty Law Center says has frequently engaged in violent skirmishes with political opponents.

Associated Press wire photos from the scene show Danielson wearing a Patriot Prayer hat and shorts with a patch indicating support for "Blue Lives Matter," a pro-police slogan created in response to Black Lives Matter.

Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson also identified Danielson as the man who was killed, referring to him as "Jay" on Facebook.

Though Gibson has publicly denied the accusations of racism against the group, its events have attracted white supremacists and hate groups like the Proud Boys.

Police said an autopsy on Danielson conducted by the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office determined that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.

A live video that appeared to capture the shooting shows people on the street yelling before two gunshots are fired. Several people flee the scene, and a man is seen stumbling before falling onto the ground.

Lovell, the police chief, previously told reporters that he could not say if the shooting was politically motivated. The department's public information officer Derek Carmon told BuzzFeed News Tuesday that they had no additional information at this time.

Danielson was out on Saturday night in Portland to "document everything and see what’s going on in the city that he lives in," his friend Michelle Dawson told BuzzFeed News.

The two met at a Patriot Prayer rally a year ago. "He was family the minute I shook his hand,” said Dawson, who lives in Yacolt, Washington.

Dawson said Danielson didn’t have any children but that he had two dogs who were "his absolute life."

She said she used to host a prayer circle in Yacolt every weekend and that Danielson would drive up from Portland to come and support her.

On her birthday, Danielson showed up at her house in a rabbit suit.

"That’s just the kind of personality that he had, always a jokester, always wanted to have fun," Dawson said.

Dawson said she learned Danielson had been fatally shot when she received pictures from the scene showing him in the street Saturday night.

“I didn’t even have to look at his face,” she said. “I knew by the shorts and I knew his shoes and I knew by the gloves that he had on that it was my friend. It was my friend.”

Like many cities across the country, protests erupted in Portland after George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police officers.

In Portland, violence intensified earlier in the summer after the Trump administration ordered federal law enforcement to the city, and officers were seen grabbing people off the street and driving them away in unmarked vehicles.

On Saturday, multiple news outlets reported that Trump supporters had fired paintball rounds and used bear spray on protesters in Portland, with demonstrators responding by throwing objects back.

"That was a peaceful protest," President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday of the paintballs fired by his supporters. "And paint is not — and paint is a defensive mechanism; paint is not bullets."

Trump then said supporters of the media had "shot a young gentleman who — and killed him — not with paint, but with a bullet."

"And I think it’s disgraceful," Trump said.

The deadly shooting in Portland was the second time in two weeks that a clash between Trump supporters, who are often armed, and anti-racism protesters ended with people being killed.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 17-year-old who showed up at a protest after a Black man had been shot in the back by police is now facing first-degree homicide charges for allegedly killing two people with a rifle.

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