How the Fatal Shooting at a Portland Protest Unfolded

VISUAL INVESTIGATIONS

How the Fatal Shooting at a Portland Protest Unfolded

We followed the final moments of a man shot and killed in Portland, Ore., as supporters of President Trump clashed with those protesting police violence.

Credit…Justin Dunlap, via Facebook

By Evan HillStella CooperDrew Jordan and 

The fatal shooting of a far-right group’s supporter in Portland, Ore., on Saturday is raising fears that the Black Lives Matter and pro-Trump protests across the country could escalate into deadly skirmishes between armed citizens and violent agitators.

The Portland Police Bureau said that the killing was being investigated as a homicide but had released few details.

The New York Times’s Visual Investigations unit reviewed multiple videos of the episode and surrounding events to piece together the fatal encounter between an unidentified gunman and Aaron J. Danielson, 39, who died at the scene.

The sequence of events that leads to the shooting begins with a caravan of Trump supporters gathering at Clackamas Town Center, about 10 miles southeast of Portland.

According to a map posted on Facebook by the organizers, who called the event the Trump 2020 Cruise Rally, the caravan was meant to follow Interstate 405 on a route that would bypass downtown Portland, the scene of more than 90 days of protests against racism and police brutality. But a number of vehicles took a detour.

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Circulating as the caravan prepares to get underway is Mr. Danielson, who can be seen in a video filmed by the photojournalist Ric Peavyhouse.

Mr. Danielson was a supporter of Patriot Prayer, according to the group’s leader, Joey Gibson, and was wearing the group’s hat at the time. Patriot Prayer describes itself as a conservative Christian group but has attracted white supremacists and previously taken firearms to Portland protests that frequently became street brawls.

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Credit…Mike Baker/The New York Times

In images posted to Twitter by the Portland Tribune journalist Zane Sparling, we again see a man who appears to be Mr. Danielson. His companion, Chandler Pappas, carries a paintball gun, and according to Mr. Sparling, the men had also come armed with knives.

As the vehicles displaying Trump flags and signs enter downtown Portland, protesters gather along the street to confront the caravan and in some cases block its route.

In multiple videos posted to Twitter, members of the caravan can be seen firing pepper spray and paintballs at the protesters.

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CreditCredit…Mike Baker/The New York Times

By evening, only a handful of caravan trucks continue driving around downtown.

In one confrontation filmed by the multimedia journalist Cory Elia, we see a tall man dressed in white and wearing a multi-pocketed vest. As members of the crowd shout at a truck and grab at its Trump flag, he can be seen reaching toward a vest pocket.

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CreditCredit…Cory Elia, via Twitter

The man in white appears again in a Facebook livestream filmed by the lighting designer and independent journalist Justin Dunlap. He is standing among a crowd of Black Lives Matter supporters, who are listening to a protester with a megaphone.

He and the man with the megaphone begin talking and pointing in the same direction. Then, the man with the megaphone tells the protesters to move six blocks south, to the Multnomah County Justice Center, the main protest site.

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CreditCredit…Justin Dunlap, via Facebook

The livestream shows the man in white walking by himself toward the Justice Center and crossing the street one block south. One minute and 43 seconds later, Mr. Dunlap turns his camera toward the sound of shouting.

What happens next occurs within six seconds.

The man in white and another man dressed in black can be seen crossing the street, apparently to confront Mr. Danielson and Mr. Pappas.

There is shouting that is hard to hear on Mr. Dunlap’s livestream, but in a second video filmed by Nathan Millsap, a Portland videographer, the audio is clearer.

A man, who Mr. Pappas later contends is the gunman, shouts: “Hey, we got some right here. We got a couple right here.”

Another man says, “He’s macing you, he’s pulling it out.”

The sound of spraying is audible, followed immediately by two gunshots.

Mr. Dunlap captures the shooting on his livestream. Mr. Danielson can be seen raising his arm and beginning to spray a pepper spray-like substance, followed almost immediately by the gunshots. The man in white backs away with his arm raised and then runs, along with the man dressed in black.

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This video includes scenes of graphic violence.CreditCredit…Justin Dunlap, via Facebook

In an interview posted on Facebook on Sunday, Mr. Pappas said that he and Mr. Danielson had not had any prior confrontations with the men, whom he didn’t recognize.

Mr. Dunlap, the livestreamer, said he believed the Portland police should not have allowed the pro-Trump caravan to enter an area they knew would be occupied by opposing protesters.

Mike Baker contributed reporting.

Evan Hill is a journalist on the Visual Investigations team, which combines traditional reporting with advanced digital forensics. @evanchill

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