A supporter of the group Patriot Prayer was identified as the man shot dead amid clashes in Portland over the weekend.
Joey Gibson, founder of the conservative organization, identified the man as Aaron Jay Danielson, also known as Jay.
“We love Jay and he had such a huge heart,” Gibson said in a social media post. “God bless him and the life he lived.”
Gibson said he would refrain from commenting publicly until Danielson’s family member did.
Gibson did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times. He told the Associated Press in text messages: “I can’t say much right now. All I can do is verify that he was a good friend and a supporter of Patriot Prayer.”
Danielson was reportedly wearing a Patriot Prayer hat when he was shot.
A GoFundMe fundraising page for Danielson says he was a Portland resident who went downtown to exercise his constitutional rights.
Some people were donating solely to leave distasteful comments on the page, organizers said.
“While we are obviously appaled [sic] we ask that NO ONE engage in any kind of retaliatory behavior, verbal or otherwise. We ask that everyone would consider the family and friends that lost a loved one Saturday night. We appreciate your understanding and donations,” they wrote.
Patriot Prayer’s website says the group stands for “God and Freedom.” It primarily focuses on Gibson, calling him an advocate for freedom who “believes it is imperative for followers of Christ to take the church into the streets, city councils, capitol buildings, courthouses, or anywhere we see injustices running unopposed including Hong Kong, China.”
Patriot Prayer has regularly held demonstrations in Portland and Seattle, where they’ve faced opposition from Antifa, a far-left group, and other activists. Brawls between the groups aren’t uncommon.
An Antifa member was identified by his sister as a possible suspect in the shooting.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, asked about the victim during a press conference on Monday in Washington, said: “The President believes that people of all ideologies should be able to peacefully protest and not have their lives put at risk like Aaron Jay Danielson that lost his life.”
“Noteworthy that his suspected killer said he was ‘100 percent Antifa’ and ready for ‘war,'” she added.
Critics of Patriot Prayer often describe the organization as “far-right” and cite the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labels it a hate group. The center has increasingly come under criticism itself in recent years. It was forced to pay $3.3 million to settle after placing a Muslim reformer on a so-called hate list. The Republican National Committee put forth a resolution last week calling the center “a far-left organization with an obvious bias.” The nonprofit said in a statement that the group was “not going to back down from calling out white supremacists and hate groups or pushing back against their dehumanizing rhetoric.”
The circumstances leading up to Saturday’s shooting weren’t entirely clear, with few videos available from the ground. Police Chief Chuck Lovell told reporters that police are aware of information circulating on social media.
“There are many who are sharing information on social media or jumping to conclusions that are not based in fact,” he said. “A human being lost their life last night. And it’s critical that everyone refrain from conjecture and allow us to gather the evidence and statements needed to hold the person who did this responsible for this heinous act.”
Anyone with eyewitness accounts or video footage was urged to come forward.
Videographer Justin Dunlap, streaming live, captured the shooting. The footage showed several males near the side of a street speaking with each other before one pulled out a gun and shot another. The footage was not focused, with no clear images of the shooter.
Dunlap said that the victim “sprayed a bunch of bear mace into the air and somebody else returned fire with, evidently, deadly force.”
Some skirmishes took place between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, police officials said.
A video from Stumptown Matters, a Portland YouTube channel, captured a man shouting “We got a couple right here” before several gunshots ring out.
Another witness, wearing a Patriot Prayer hat, said the group was tracked down.
“They executed my partner,” he told a YouTube channel. “They hunted him down, they hunted us down.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the shooting victim. It also incorrectly described the timing of the shooting. The Epoch Times regrets the errors.