Accused Portland Murderer Pointed Gun at Officers Before He Was Killed: Detectives

September 18, 2020 Updated: September 18, 2020

The man who authorities said killed another man in downtown Portland last month pointed a gun at officers trying to take him into custody before he was shot dead, detectives said late Thursday.

Michael Reinoehl, 48, was killed by law enforcement officers near Lacey, Washington, about 120 miles north of Portland.

In an update, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said investigators found Reinoehl “pointed the handgun that he had in his possession at the officers at the time of the shooting.”

Detectives found a fired shell casing in the vehicle that Reinoehl was driving. Despite it being the same caliber as the firearm he possessed, they’re not yet sure that the casing is an exact match to the .380 caliber handgun.

None of the officers pursuing Reinoehl carried or fired a weapon of that caliber.

The gun is also the same caliber as the weapon used in the homicide in Portland on Aug. 30.

michael reinoehl
Investigators examine the scene at Tanglewilde Terrace, where law enforcement officers shot and killed a man reported to be Michael Forest Reinoehl, in Lacey, Wash., on Sept. 4, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs./Reuters)

Officers previously said Reinoehl had a semi-automatic handgun in his possession at the time of the incident but were working to confirm whether or not he had fired and whether he’d pointed it at law enforcement.

Detectives found a second gun, an AR15-style .22 caliber rifle, in the front seat. The gun’s serial number had been removed.

The investigation continues, the sheriff’s office said. Ballistics testing is planned for the firearms.

Detectives do not have any video evidence from when officers shot Reinoehl. They’re asking anyone with video or who might have witnessed the shooting to contact detectives.

Reinoehl was a self-identified member of the far-left, anarcho-communist network Antifa, and has said he worked security for Black Lives Matter events. He had been arrested twice over the summer, according to information obtained by The Epoch Times.

Reinoehl was taken into custody in Portland on July 5 for three misdemeanors, including possessing a loaded gun in a public place. Prosecutors had not moved forward with the charges before Reinoehl was killed.

An Oregon state trooper arrested Reinoehl on June 8 in Baker County in eastern Oregon after witnessing him and his 17-year-old son driving separate vehicles at 111 mph in an apparent race.

portland suspect
In this still image from video, Michael Forest Reinoehl speaks to a reporter about the shooting in Portland, Ore., in an undated interview. (Vice News)

The man, whose 11-year-old daughter was in the vehicle, was arrested on charges including unlawful possession of a firearm because he had a loaded, concealed Glock pistol but didn’t have a concealed handgun license. Reinoehl was later seen with the girl at a demonstration outside Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment.

A witness to the downtown Portland shooting of Aaron Danielson said Danielson had been “executed.” A Portland police detective suggested Reinoehl targeted Danielson and the witness, Chandler Pappas.

Reinoehl appeared to admit to the shooting during an interview released by Vice News just hours before he was found in Washington state. He claimed he acted to prevent his friend from being killed.

Several people witnessed law enforcement officers shooting Reinoehl.

Chad Smith and Chase Cutler were working on vehicles when they saw two SUVs converge on a man in a vehicle outside an apartment complex. The man exited the vehicle and fired what they described as an assault rifle before officers returned fire, hitting the man, they told The Olympian.

Smith told the Seattle Times that he saw the suspect get out of his car, pull out a gun, and shoot at officers as he walked backward.

Smith later told Vice that he did not actually see Reinoehl brandish a weapon.

Epoch Times Photo
Investigators with the Washington State Crime Lab collect evidence at Tanglewilde Terrace, where law enforcement officers shot a man reported to be Michael Forest Reinoehl, in Lacey, Wash., Sept. 3, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

Another man, Nate Dinguss, claimed to have witnessed Reinoehl walking toward his car when two unmarked law enforcement vehicles converged and officers began firing on the suspect.

Dinguss “said that he never observed a firearm on Reinoehl nor did Reinoehl reach for anything,” a statement released by his lawyers stated.

Multiple queries sent to the lawyers went unanswered.

The officers on the scene were part of a U.S. Marshal’s Service violent offender task force.

In a statement following the shooting, the service said the task force acted on a request by the Portland Police Bureau to arrest Reinoehl.

“The fugitive task force located Reinoehl in Olympia and attempted to peacefully arrest him. Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene,” the service stated.

Reinoehl exited an apartment and got into a vehicle to leave, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said in its initial statement on what transpired.

“During the attempt to apprehend him, shots were fired at the suspect in the vehicle and he fled from the vehicle on foot. Additional shots were fired at the suspect and he was later pronounced deceased at the location,” it stated.

michael reinoehl pavement
In this still image from video, the words “Michael was murdered” are scrawled on pavement during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 3, 2020. (Roman Balmakov/The Epoch Times)

Attorney General William Barr said shortly after that Reinoehl “attempted to escape arrest and produced a firearm,” prompting law enforcement officers to shoot him.

Tracking down the suspect, Barr said, was “a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities.”

Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock ruled last week that the death was a homicide.

His office said Reinoehl died from gunshot wounds to the head and upper torso. The autopsy didn’t say how many shots struck Reinoehl.

Reinoehl’s sister told the Daily Mail earlier this month that her brother’s death wasn’t necessarily bad news.

“Honestly I didn’t expect it to be the police, I expected it to be the people who had a contract out for him. I was expecting the angry population of people who were out for blood,” April Reinoehl, the sister, said.

“Now we’ve got two martyrs. That’s how the two opposing sides are going to want to spin it,” she added, referring to Danielson and Reinoehl.

April Reinoehl said she wouldn’t be surprised if her estranged brother did something that prompted federal officers to open fire.

“He always acted impulsively letting the worst emotions guide his actions, and then he’d try to rationalize afterwards. So I’m not surprised he got himself killed. I’m surprised a police officer did it,” she said.

“I’m relieved and also disappointed by that. At least it wasn’t vigilante justice that got him, because I think that would actually be worse. It would feed the violence a lot more.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber