The Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office have identified the man killed amid dueling protests Saturday in downtown Portland as 39-year old Aaron J. Danielson.
The medical examiner determined the manner of death was homicide and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Police say they are still investigating possible shooters and motives.
Photographs after the shooting show Danielson wearing a Patriot Prayer hat and a patch indicating support for law enforcement. Patriot Prayer is a far-right political group based in the Portland area. The group has engaged in violence during past protests in Portland.
The shooting took place Saturday night after hundreds of vehicles drove through the city as part of a pro-President Trump demonstration. Some skirmished with people downtown to protest for racial justice.
At the White House Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of the shooting, “The president believes that people of all ideologies should be able to peacefully protest and not have their lives put at risk.”
Speaking on The Lars Larson Show, Patriot Prayer Founder Joey Gibson called Danielson one of the nicest guys he’s ever met.
“Anyone who knows him would agree with this statement I’m going to make,” Gibson said. “I don’t care what you believe in politically, you can be far left, conservative, whatever: If you knew him and his heart, you would never hurt him, let alone try and murder him.”
Gibson said he was with Danielson in the back of a truck during the Trump rally Saturday. After the caravan returned to the Clackamas Town Center Mall – where the rally began – Danielson went with a friend back downtown Portland. Gibson said Danielson lived downtown.
The shooter fired two shots, which are heard on an eyewitness video of the shooting.
The first, Gibson said hit a can of bear mace that Danielson’s friend had.
“The second bullet goes into Jay’s chest, and he takes a couple of steps and he’s down,” Gibson told Larson. “People on the left need to stand up and need to speak out against this.”
On Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for an end to violence.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your politics are, we have to all stop the violence,” Wheeler said. “For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to see retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away. You of course have a constitutional right to be here, but we’re asking you to stay away and work with us to help us deescalate this situation.”
Aaron Danielson’s family released a statement Monday night asking for privacy. They characterized the 39 year-old as a “beautiful son, brother, cousin, nephew and friend” with a “big smile” and a “love for family and country.”
A few of Danielson’s friends spoke to reporters on the steps of the Washington Park Rose Garden Monday evening to offer their remembrances of the man they knew by his nickname “Jay.”
“Jay was quick-witted and funny as could be — quick to crack a joke or offer a hug,” said Luke Carrillo, who identified himself as a longtime business associate. “Jay loved this community and the people within it. Jay loved being a Portlander, and he loved showing out-of-towners his chosen home town.”
Danielson’s friends declined to comment on the criminal investigation into the shooting. They characterized Danielson as a man who would help others, and while he’d stand up for his beliefs, he wouldn’t start a fight.
Danielson’s friends ended with a call for calm and a stop to the bloodshed in Portland on Saturday that took their friend’s life.
“We ask now that Portland, Oregon, and the entire country stand together and renounce any further acts of violence,” Carrillo said. “No family or friend should ever have to deal with this type of loss, for any reason at all, period.”
The statement from Danielson’s family concluded with a similar plea for justice and calm.
“We pray that justice is done for the senseless killing of our beloved Jay, who never did any harm to anyone and who was so selfless, generous, kind, and loved everyone regardless of skin color. We pray for peace in our country and we want the violence to stop.”