A man fired two gunshots near protesters marching through Vancouver, Wash., early Saturday morning, as the aftermath of a vigil for a Black man killed by police turned into a series of dangerous confrontations.
On Friday night, crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters mourned Kevin E. Peterson Jr., 21, who was killed by Clark County sheriff's deputies in Hazel Dell, Wash., an unincorporated area 12 miles north of Portland. The killing occurred at a politically fraught time and place: less than a week before the presidential election; across the river from Portland's recurring protests of police brutality; and in the hometown of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that brawls with Portland anti-fascists.
Following the Peterson vigil—which occurred beside a chain-link fence in Hazel Dell, with right-wing groups watching from across the street—Black Lives Matter protesters marched on Vancouver, shattering the windows of several law enforcement and federal buildings.
Shortly before midnight, marchers reached the office of "A Affordable Bail Bonds," located on West 11th Street, next to the Clark County Courthouse. The business was open, and was defended by several armed right-wing counterprotesters, who had returned from earlier in the night. (Some protesters had defaced the bail bonds office earlier in the evening.)
Crowds stopped at the intersection of West Esther Street and 11th Street while a smaller group splintered to verbally confront the bail bond office defenders. Verbal heckling escalated to shoving, and at least one right-wing counterprotester sprayed bear mace at someone arguing with him. The Clark County Sheriff's Office declared an unlawful assembly, and riot police dismounted in formation, ready to disperse the crowd.
Two of the conservative counterprotesters tried to depart the area in a vehicle but were surrounded by Black Lives Matter marchers. The two men drove a dark blue SUV slowly through the crowd and sprayed mace at protesters as they reached the intersection.
Crowds responded by chasing the vehicle and throwing objects at it, breaking one window. The SUV stopped at Esther and 11th. Crowds surrounding the vehicle suddenly fled, yelling, "He's got a gun!"
Two shots rang out soon after, at 12:25 am on Oct. 31. A voice from the vehicle could be heard yelling, "Shoot them! Shoot the motherfuckers!"
Other footage, taken from a vantage point closer to the SUV, shows smoke billowing upward, suggesting the gunman may have fired into the air, not toward the crowd.
Federal agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Protective Service responded, closing in from the north from the federal building. No arrest or attempt to pursue was made on scene.
The sheriff's office has released no details about the incident.