U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr today celebrated the joint effort by law enforcement agencies to track down Michael Reinoehl, the Portland-area anti-fascist who confessed to killing a pro-Trump protester on Aug. 29. A federal task force killed Reinoehl last night in a hail of bullets near the town of Lacey, Wash., in what one witness described as a firefight.
"The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed," Barr said, "and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs."
The tone of Barr's statement was remarkably triumphant, given that the manhunt ended not with Reinoehl's apprehension but with his death. And it comes amid a volatile moment: Protesters on both the right and left wings have suddenly seen a member of their contingent slain in the streets. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is campaigning against civil unrest in "anarchist jurisdictions" like Portland and Seattle.
Barr's statement reflected the White House's aims.
"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," Barr said. "I applaud the outstanding cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement, particularly the fugitive task force team that located Reinoehl and prevented him from escaping justice."
Reinoehl, 48, whose social media account listed his most recent home as Gresham, described himself as "100% antifa" and was a regular presence at racial justice protests, where he appears to have appointed himself as a security guard. He was arrested earlier this summer for bringing a gun to a protest and, on another occasion, was shot in the arm while taking a gun from someone else.
In an interview with Vice News, he confessed to shooting Danielson on Southwest Alder Street, in the minutes after a Trump-supporting convoy rolled through Portland in a tumultuous scene. He said he pulled the trigger in self-defense to protect a friend from being stabbed. He fled rather than turning himself in to police, saying he believed they were working with white nationalist groups.
Accounts of the police killing of Reinoehl last night remain incomplete, but a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service says a federal task force was trying to arrest Reinoehl on a warrant issued Thursday by the Portland Police Bureau.
Thurston County sheriff's officials told local reporters that when the task force approached an apartment near Lacey where Reinoehl was staying, he came outside holding a gun. Officers in the federal task force fired on him as he got into a station wagon. He drove away and left the car in the parking lot of another apartment complex, and police shot him to death there.
Witnesses said the officers fired as many as 50 shots at Reinoehl. One resident of the apartment complex, 29-year-old Chad Smith, said he watched Reinoehl exchange gunfire with police. Law enforcement hasn't confirmed that account.
"And we seen the suspect got out of a silver car, got out, pulled out his gun and was shooting toward the cops," Smith told The Seattle Times. "At that point the suspect was shooting and walking backwards."
Smith described a firefight. "There was a bunch of shots," he said, "probably a good minute, minute-and-a-half of just solid shooting."