Video of the moments before Patriot Prayer’s Aaron Danielson was shot and killed in Portland casts some doubt on the narrative that the alleged shooter, Michael Reinoehl, was defending himself or a friend against Trump supporters who were instigating violence.
Danielson was shot in the chest on Aug. 29 during on the same night some right-wing demonstrators were driving through the city and, at times, clashing with left-wing protesters.
A man named Justin Dunlap, who throughout his video expresses support for Black Lives Matter protesters, was livestreaming on Facebook and captured the shooting.
The first nearly 13 minutes or so of the video are relatively uneventful, with Dunlap walking around downtown Portland, Oregon, interacting at times with other protesters, and wondering where the pro-Trump caravan he was expecting was.
At the 13:45 mark, Dunlap comes across a white pickup truck, which he identifies as a truck he saw earlier from which someone shot paintballs.
The man who later shoots Danielson is seen standing with some others by the truck, apparently having words with whoever is inside. Dunlap gets the truck’s license plate number as it drives off.
After a few more minutes of congregating in this spot, the protester with the megaphone announces to Black Lives Matter supporters in the vicinity that they’re heading to the Justice Center, which is back in the direction that Dunlap was at earlier in the video.
The protesters, including the shooter, walk by Dunlap to go toward the Justice Center. Dunlap pauses for a moment before following directly behind the shooter as they walk down the sidewalk. It’s unclear whether Dunlap knew or was affiliated with the protesters, or whether he was just observing and attempting to follow potential action in the protests. As he walks, he stops a few times to comment on graffiti that has been painted on some businesses.
At 17:45 in the video, Dunlap stops at an intersection. He has the camera pointed away from the shooter and the other protesters at this point. A black SUV passes in front of him toward where the shooting is about to occur, and he follows that vehicle with the camera for a few seconds, saying “oh, good” and commenting that he hears the sound of engines revving and it makes him nervous.
A few seconds later, shouting is heard off camera. Dunlap turns the camera toward the commotion, and the shooter and several others are seen in an apparent confrontation with Danielson and others down the street. The black SUV stops near the altercation. The video is not totally clear because of the distance, but there is a hissing sound as it appears Danielson approaches the shooter and sprays what may be mace toward the shooter.
A split second after the spraying begins, the shooter fires twice. Danielson stumbles away for a few steps before falling to the ground. The shooter runs away in the other direction, unimpeded. Another person with a skateboard walks by and appears to pick some objects off the ground, possibly shell casings, then walks away off camera with his skateboard held in front of his face as police arrive.
Here is a shorter clip showing the shooting:
Chandler Pappas, a friend of Danielson’s who was at the scene when Danielson was killed, said he believed they were hunted.
“They hunted him down — they hunted us down,” Pappas said, according to the New York Post. “It didn’t even register that someone was pointing a gun at us until the shots went off and he took off running. … I think it was planned. I think they were looking for someone to hurt.”
Reinoehl, the suspected shooter, talked to Vice News about what happened shortly before he was killed Thursday night by police who tracked him down in Washington state to arrest him for the murder. He indicated that he thought Danielson was threatening harm.
“I had no choice. I mean, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that,” Reinoehl said.
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