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'She was a bright light': Friends mourn woman shot and killed in mass shooting at racial justice rally

Friends tell KGW June Knightly was a regular fixture at protests who strived to keep demonstrators safe and deescalate conflict.

PORTLAND, Oregon — Loved ones are mourning the loss of a Portland woman shot and killed during a mass shooting at a rally Saturday night. Police said five other people were injured during the demonstration for racial justice at Normandale Park in Northeast Portland.

“Just the shock of knowing she was shot and killed was unbelievable to me,” said Belinda Carroll, a longtime friend of 60-year-old June Knightly. Multiple sources told KGW that Knightly was shot and killed during the rally, though police have not confirmed her identity. 

A woman who was among those injured told The New York Times that a man who lived near the park fired at a group that was rerouting traffic ahead of a planned march.

“Take some time to mourn the loss of June,” said Knightly's friend Nacie Runyan. “Keep her in your heart and in your light and keep fighting the good fight.”

RELATED: 1 dead, 5 hurt following confrontation between armed neighbor and armed protesters in Rose City Park neighborhood

Runyan said it's what Knightly would want people to do. The two reconnected in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. They attended several marches and demonstrations together. Runyan said Knightly—whose nickname was T-Rex—would often provide security during protests or direct traffic to protect demonstrators.

“She just had that demeanor about her to keep everyone calm and keep everyone safe,” said Runyan. “She was just this bright light of a motherly figure as well and that's why everybody warmed up to her almost immediately, because of what she did for everybody else.”

Knightly leaves behind a wife, an adult son and a community that Carroll said treasured her.

“She described herself as a pacifist more than once,” said Carroll. “So that was where she lived; de-escalation and making sure people were talking to each other in a calm way.”

Details from Saturday's shooting are still emerging. Police said the scene was so chaotic, they're still gathering evidence to prove, "who is a suspect and who is a victim," adding that many at the rally left without talking to them.

“The only thing I knew for sure is there were two separate guns that got shot,” said neighbor Jeff Pry, who heard the shooting Saturday night.

“It's a tragedy all the way around,” said Pry. “But knowing my son was in the living room and that a bullet could have gone through our front window at any time and for what, I'm not really sure.”

As the investigation continues, friends and loved ones are focusing on the person they lost. A small group gathered Monday night at Director Park downtown and marched in honor of Knightly.

“It's a real slap in the face that this happened,” said Carroll. “I think everyone's going to be sad for a long time.”

RELATED: Mother killed, kids injured in shooting as gunfire incidents continue to climb

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