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Portland murder suspect Michael Reinoehl pointed handgun at police during fatal encounter, authorities say

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office said the Portland homicide suspect pointed a gun at deputies.
Credit: The Oregonian
Michael Reinoehl appears at a protest outside Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's residence.

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has released an update in the police killing of Michael Reinoehl, who was suspected of killing a man following protests in downtown Portland last month.

In a press release, distributed on the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page on Thursday, the agency said that Reinoehl pointed a handgun at officers during the confrontation in Lacey, Washington, that led to an officer shooting and killing him.

Additionally, the sheriff's office said that detectives found a casing inside a vehicle deputies had a search warrant to search. It was the vehicle he was driving at the time of the downtown Portland murder of Aaron Danielson, of which Reinoehl was the suspect.

RELATED: Unsealed documents shed light on moments before fatal downtown Portland shooting

That casing matched the caliber of the firearm that Reinoehl had pointed at officers. It is unclear at this time whether the casing is an exact match for the gun, however, as ballistic tests need to be done to determine that. No officer at the scene was carrying a gun of that caliber so the casing did not come from law enforcement.

The gun and casing also matched the caliber of the gun used in the downtown Portland shooting. Again, it is unclear if it is actually the same gun, as ballistics tests need to be run on projectiles, and casings testing for DNA or fingerprints.

Inside the car, deputies found an AR-15 style .22 caliber rifle that had the serial number removed.

Police continue to investigate the Portland murder and ask anyone with video of the incident to please contact detectives.

Part of their evidence comes from a VICE News interview during which Reinoehl admitted to shooting Aaron Danielson. Reinoehl said he believed he and a friend were about to be stabbed the night Danielson was shot and killed.

"I had no choice," he said. "I mean, I, 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 told VICE News that he hadn't turned himself in because he believed right-wing protesters and police were collaborating, and that he didn't believe police would protect him if he turned himself in.

Reinoehl's sister told The Oregonian there's no way he would have gone quietly as arresting officers approached.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a statement about the killing of Reinoehl, saying the streets are safer "with this violent agitator removed."

"The tracking down of Reinoehl — a dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer — is a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities," the statement read. "The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs."

Though he identified himself as being anti-fascist in the Vice News interview, he said he was not a member of antifa, or any organization.

Posted by Thurston County-Sheriff on Thursday, September 17, 2020