Michael Forest Reinoehl, a man under investigation in connection with Saturday night’s fatal shooting of a Patriot Prayer supporter, was shot in the arm in late July when he tried to wrestle a gun away from a stranger during a chaotic scuffle in downtown Portland.
Reinoehl gave his account soon after the July 26 encounter to a Bloomberg videographer, but now the man whose gun went off and wounded Reinoehl has come forward with his version of what happened that Sunday night.
Portland police are continuing to investigate the skirmish that sent Reinoehl and the owner of the gun to the hospital. They have made no arrests.
The confrontation was the second time that month that Reinoehl was involved with a gun in downtown. He had been cited by police July 5 for allegedly having a loaded gun in public, though by the end of the month prosecutors had dropped the charge.
Reinoehl’s wounding occurred after a brawl began in Lownsdale Square, the city park across the street from the federal courthouse – the site in July of nearly nightly showdowns between protesters against police violence and federal officers whose ranks were boosted by the Trump administration to protect the building.
Joining the fight was a man who ended up getting arrested in a separate assault in August, accused of kicking another man in the head and knocking him unconscious on Southwest Broadway. The attack was caught on video and went viral.
The July 26 clash when the gun went off began when Aaron Scott Collins, 38, said he and a friend left Kells Irish Pub downtown and walked into Lownsdale Square. Collins, who has a concealed weapons permit, was carrying a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun in a holster on his hip.
Collins said his friend used a cellphone to start filming a group of youths of color who appeared to be harassing an older Black man on a park bench.
“Somebody said, ‘He’s recording us. He’s a Nazi. Get his phone,’ ” Collins told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The crowd turned on Collins and his friend, kicking and striking them, he said.
At one point, as the two men moved into Southwest Salmon Street, Collins said he was struck in the head from behind with a skateboard and fell. People were trying to take the gun from his holster while he was down, he said.
Collins knelt on the ground, balancing on his left hand and reaching for his gun with his right hand, he said. He was trying to make sure no one would take it, he said.
“My gun was halfway out of its holster. I decided to take it out at that point as I’m being attacked,” Collins said.
He took the gun out of the holster, brought it in front of him and tried to keep it trained toward the ground, he said.
Reinoehl had by then joined the fray and tried to grab the slide of the pistol, Collins said. As Reinoehl moved to take the gun, it discharged, Collins said.
“I realized people were trying to pull the gun out of my hand. I compressed my finger around the grip of the gun, under the trigger guard. I’m fighting for physical control of the gun,” Collins said. “I felt someone trying to yank on it, the top part of the slide. They’re yanking on it really hard. After the second or third jerk, the gun goes off.”
People immediately scattered, Collins said. He didn’t know anyone had been hurt, he said.
Collins’ friend helped Collins out of the street to the sidewalk by the corner of Southwest Salmon Street and Fourth Avenue. Collins still had his gun.
But some people followed them, tackled Collins from behind and he fell to his knees. The gun went skidding out in front of him and he tried to dive to hold onto it, he said.
Collins said his friend told people that Collins legally owned the gun and just wanted to leave.
“I’m pinned there,” Collins said. “People are yelling, ‘Drop the gun. Kill these Nazis!’ We are white. We are tattooed. I’m not a white supremacist. I have conservative leanings, but I try to keep them to myself and play nice with everybody.”
Someone took the magazine out of the pistol and another man tried to stand on the gun, Collins said.
The crowd of people attacking him – about a dozen, he estimated – included Marquise Love, the man now accused of kicking another man in the head and knocking him out on Aug. 16, Collins said.
Collins decided to let go of his gun and ran from the crowd, he said, heading west, then north on Southwest Fourth Avenue.
“I was scared at the moment they were going to take it and use it on me,” he said.
Police had arrived by then, about 7:30 p.m., and ordered him to the ground, Collins said. He was taken by ambulance to OHSU Hospital.
Collins, at 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, said he suffered a concussion and was bleeding from his lip. He told police his gun was missing and that his and his friend’s cellphones had been stolen. Collins said earlier that night he drank two shots of bourbon within an hour at Kells.
Reinoehl, 48, arrived at a local hospital by a private car that night, according to police.
The next day, on a Bloomberg QuickTake news video, Reinoehl was interviewed while standing across the street from the Multnomah County Justice Center downtown, a bloodied bandage wrapped around his arm above his elbow.
During the interview, he said he’d been shot through his arm in an altercation between a man and a group of minors, though he said he wasn’t sure what started it. He said he tried to wrest a man’s gun away.
“I jumped in there and pulled the gun away … and I got shot through the arm,” he said.
Collins who does delivery work for Amazon, helps make ammunition for a private company and had been a Uber driver until the coronavirus pandemic hit, said he wasn’t aware anyone had been hit by the shot from his gun until the day after the incident.
Collins’ gun hasn’t been recovered, police said. Detectives are continuing to conduct interviews and investigate.
Collins said he’s still suffering from the concussion and in “shock and awe” about what unfolded.
He’s sorry anyone was shot and wounded, he said, but doesn’t believe Reinoehl “had any right to disarm me.”
In Reinoehl’s video interview, “he admits that he had no idea what was going on” but got involved, Collins noted.
During a protest on July 5, Reinoehl was cited for having a loaded gun in a public place after a struggle with police about 2 a.m. in the 700 block of Southwest Main Street.
During the struggle, a 9mm handgun dropped from Reinoehl and police seized the pistol, according to police. The citation was later dropped, though it’s unclear if Reinoehl got that 9mm gun back.
Police have not said whether Reinoehl sought to get his gun back and have not responded to an Oregonian/OregonLive public records request for the July 5 police report.
Reinoehl also is wanted on a warrant for failure to appear in court, issued out of Baker County on July 8 in a speed racing case from June. On June 8, he and his 17-year-old son were racing in two cars at speeds of up to 111 mph heading east on Interstate 84 near North Powder, according to state police. He was stopped driving a Cadillac with his 11-year-old daughter as a passenger, police said. Inside the car, police said they found marijuana, “unidentified prescription pills” and a loaded Glock pistol for which Reinoehl didn’t have a concealed handgun license, police said.
He faces allegations including driving under the influence of a controlled substance, recklessly endangering another, unlawful possession of a gun and driving while suspended and uninsured.
Video of Saturday night’s fatal shooting on Southwest Third Avenue shows a man matching Reinoehl’s description at the scene and running away.
Reinoehl’s sister said she identified Reinoehl to police as the man in the video. Reinoehl social media posts say he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and show him attending recent protests. He describes himself as “100% Antifa.”
Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. He had attended a car caravan in support of Donald Trump earlier Saturday. He was wearing a ballcap with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group that has been at the center of a series of street brawls with antifa opponents.
Witnesses to the shooting described yelling between some men who encountered each other on the street about 8:45 p.m., one of them spraying a stinging chemical and then two shots.
No arrest has been made.
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