The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office in Oregon released unsealed court documents on Friday that appear to tell a much different story of last weekend’s fatal shooting in Portland than the alleged shooter provided during an interview this week. The unsealed documents suggest that Michael Forest Reinoehl targeted Aaron “Jay” Danielson before firing gunshots at the Patriot Prayer member.
Reinoehl, who describes himself as “100% ANTIFA” on social media, is seen on surveillance video from the night of Aug. 29. Security footage from Moda Tower catches Reinoehl seemingly hiding in a parking garage just before 8:45 p.m., then spots Danielson and his friend and fellow Patriot Prayer member, Chandler Pappas. Reinoehl then follows the two men down Third Avenue. Both Danielson and Pappas were wearing Patriot Prayer hats at the time.
Portland Police homicide detective Rico Beniga wrote in the probable cause affidavit that Reinoehl “conceals himself, waits and watches” as Danielson and Pappas pass him.
At that moment, Danielson “appeared to be holding a can in his right hand and what appears to be an expandable baton in his left hand,” according to Beniga’s statement. Reinoehl emerged from the garage and followed the two men as they crossed the street. Reinoehl was seen “reaching toward the pocket or pouch on his waistband.”
“The shooting occurs shortly thereafter and is not captured on the surveillance video,” the Portland Police Bureau detective wrote.
Two shots were fired, one of which appears to have hit the bear spray that Danielson was holding, which caused an explosion of “what appears to be a gaseous substance.” The can of bear spray was recovered by police near Danielson’s body and “exhibited damage consistent with being struck by a bullet,” Beniga said.
Police recovered a loaded Glock 17 from Danielson’s waistband that had 19 rounds in the magazine, prompting investigators to not believe the gun was fired during the deadly encounter since the magazine holds 19 rounds. Danielson also had “3 fully loaded 9mm magazines from the cargo pockets” of his shorts.
The other bullet struck Danielson in the chest, and then he stumbled three steps before collapsing in the street.
Danielson, 39, was pronounced dead at 8:55 p.m., approximately 10 minutes after the shooting. An autopsy found that Danielson was shot in the front, the bullet traveled from right to left, and was lodged in his back. The medical examiner determined that Danielson died of a gunshot to the chest. His death was ruled a homicide.
Reinoehl is then seen on video running north, the statement says.
“I believe it was just a random assassination attempt. I think it was planned,” Pappas said. “I think they were looking for somebody to hurt. I think they’re looking for somebody just like us who was down there unprotected, who didn’t go and bring guns because we’re not, we didn’t have any intention to kill people.”
On Wednesday, the Portland Police Bureau obtained a warrant from a Multnomah County court for Reinoehl’s arrest. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office charged Reinoehl with murder in the second degree with a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm.
A day later, Reinoehl, 49, was killed amid a hail of gunfire after a fugitive task force fatally shot him near Lacey, Washington.
Police searched Reinoehl’s home and recovered clothing that matched what Reinoehl was wearing at the time of the shooting. Police also found Winchester .380-caliber ammunition, which matched the shell casing they found at the crime scene.
Court documents released appear to suggest Reinoehl obtained the gun he used to shoot Danielson from his son in exchange for marijuana.
“Portland detectives also obtained data from the phone of Reinoehl’s son, who was recently investigated for an unrelated crime in Clackamas County,” The Seattle Times reported. “Among the texts to the son was one on Aug. 7 from a contact labeled ‘Dad.’ According to Beniga’s statement, it said: ‘Sell me the gun for a quarter pound of weed and $100 I’m getting tired of this (expletive) I need a piece now.'”
The affidavit also states that Reinoehl was arrested by the Portland Police during protests on July 5. He was arrested and charged with possession of a loaded firearm in public, resisting arrest, and interfering with a public safety officer.
On Friday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt gave a statement on the death of Reinoehl.
“The events of Thursday night are still being investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies,” Schmidt said, reported by KING-TV. “We still do not have a full understanding of what led to the death of Michael Forest Reinoehl. The loss of life is tragic. It has a profound impact on families, friends and community members. The apprehension of a fugitive, in particular one under investigation for murder, is especially dangerous for law enforcement. I am thankful that no one else was injured or killed during last night’s incident in Lacey, Washington, and I appreciate the coordination between law enforcement agencies throughout this investigation.”
Before he died, Reinoehl gave an interview to Vice News, which aired on Thursday. Reinoehl admitted to shooting and killing Danielson, but he said he did so in self-defense, which is not supported by the unsealed court documents, or by video taken at the scene.
“You know, lots of lawyers suggest that I shouldn’t even be saying anything, but I feel it’s important that the world at least gets a little bit of what’s really going on,” Reinoehl said. “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.”
A livestream video also puts doubt into Reinoehl’s account of the fatal shooting.