By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(PORTLAND) — The fugitive who allegedly gunned down a pro-Trump protester in Portland, Oregon, over the summer had his gun in his pocket when he was killed in a hail of more than 30 bullets by members of a federal task force, authorities said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Investigators found a loaded .380-caliber handgun in Michael Reinoehl’s right front pants pocket and claimed the 48-year-old’s hand was on or near the weapon when he was killed, according to Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Brady.
The new information follows initial reports from investigators who said members of the federal fugitive task force involved in shooting Reinoehl gave conflicting statements. One said he opened fire when Reinoehl pointed a gun at task force members, while another alleged Reinoehl appeared to be reaching for a gun when he was shot, officials said.
In a statement released shortly after Reinoehl was shot, the U.S. Marshals service said task force members opened fire on the fugitive who “produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers.”
Reinoehl was killed in Lacey, Washington, on Sept. 3, just hours after an arrest warrant was issued for him on a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson on Aug. 29 in Portland. Authorities alleged that Danielson was shot to death during a street confrontation with Reinoehl, who told Vice News he was there providing security for Black Lives Matter protesters.
Danielson was part of a group of self-described Trump supporters who came to Portland en masse and clashed with protesters demonstrating against police brutality. Friends said Danielson was also a supporter of the right-wing group “Patriot Prayer.”
Brady said investigators are still waiting for lab results to determine whether the gun found on Reinoehl is the same one used to shoot Danielson.
The latest details regarding Reinoehl’s death come after several witnesses claimed they did not hear task force members yell out any warnings to Reinoehl before they opened fire on him.
”Officers shot multiple rapid-fire rounds at Reinoehl before issuing a brief ‘stop’ command, quickly followed by more rapid-fire shooting by additional officers,” witness Nathaniel Dingess, who lives near the apartment complex where Reinoehl was shot, said in a statement to The Oregonian newspaper.
The New York Times reported in October that in interviews the newspaper conducted with 22 people near the scene of Reinoehl’s death, all but one claimed the task force members failed to identify themselves or give Reinoehl commands before they unleashed a barrage of gunfire.
On Tuesday, Brady had disputed the statements from witnesses, saying four members of the federal task force gave Reinoehl “commands to stop and show his hands” prior to shooting him.
Brady said Tuesday that Reinoehl was shot and wounded while he was still inside his car. He said Reinoehl got out of the vehicle and attempted to run but collapsed in the street. Reinoehl was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brady said there is no evidence that Reinoehl fired his .380-caliber weapon at the task force members. He said one .380-caliber shell casing was discovered in the back seat of Reinoehl’s car, but that it was unclear how long the casing had been there or when it had been fired.
President Donald Trump praised the task force for killing Reinoehl.
“This guy was a violent criminal. And the U.S. Marshals killed him,” Trump said in a Sept. 13 interview with Fox News. “I will tell you something, that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”
Attorney General William Barr also released a statement following Reinoehl’s death, saying, “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.”
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