The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office filed murder and attempted murder charges Tuesday for the man suspected of shooting five people at a park in Northeast Portland on Saturday night.
Benjamin Jeffrey Smith, 43, allegedly confronted participants at a racial justice demonstration Saturday night before pulling out a handgun and shooting multiple people in the crowd, according to witnesses and prosecutors. Brandy “June” Knightly, 60, was killed and four others were injured.
A member of the crowd shot Smith, who remains hospitalized and in critical care.
In seeking an arrest warrant, prosecutors have charged Smith with one count of second degree murder, four counts of attempted first degree murder with a firearm, as well as four counts of assault with a firearm.
Court records filed Tuesday also state that one victim was “paralyzed from the neck down” and is hospitalized in critical condition. Three other victims were also shot in multiple places, and one of them remains hospitalized. The two others have been treated and released.
Prosecutors say video of the incident shows Smith approaching a group of demonstrators who had gathered that night near Normandale Park to protest police violence.
“(Smith) approached the demonstration and confronted several of its participants, yelling at them and demanding they leave the area,” prosecutors wrote.
Video then allegedly shows the group telling Smith to “leave them alone and return home.”
“(Smith) responds by demanding they ‘make’ him leave and he approaches a participant aggressively, who pushes him back. (Smith) continues to yell at participants and a few moments later, (Smith) draws a handgun and fires at multiple people, striking five,” the prosecutors stated.
The shooting ended when a person with the group of demonstrators shot Smith in the “hip area,” critically wounding him. Law enforcement originally detained that person on charges of first degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon, both felonies. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office ultimately decided to bring “no complaint” against the person “based upon our review of facts and evidence.”
OPB has chosen not to name the person because they have not been charged with a crime, and they did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Court records show the person is licensed to conceal carry a firearm.
According to Smith’s roommate, Kristine Christenson, he had expressed anger at protests in Portland, people who are experiencing homelessness and COVID health restrictions in recent years. Smith also owned several guns, according to Christenson.
Portland police officers have remained at the hospital with Smith since the shooting and subsequent surgery, court records state.