A Portland man accused of killing a woman and shooting four other people during a racial justice protest last year is set to plead guilty Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Benjamin Smith is charged with one count of murder, four counts of attempted murder and four counts of assault with a firearm.
The terms of the scheduled plea weren’t immediately available.
The Feb. 19, 2022, shooting at Normandale Park in Northeast Portland left June Knightly dead and another unnamed victim paralyzed from the neck down, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
Smith allegedly came out of his apartment and started yelling misogynist slurs at a small group of people who were holding back traffic for a peaceful racial justice march. According to witnesses, attempts to de-escalate failed and Smith drew a handgun, firing at the group.
An armed bystander then shot and critically injured Smith. That person was not charged.
Jonathan Sarre, Smith’s court-appointed defense attorney, said his client is still recovering from being shot and declined to comment further.
Several people had flagged Smith’s violent online behavior to the FBI, going back to at least 2006. Smith’s former roommate told OPB that Smith had bragged about the FBI contacting him in 2021 with concerns about his potential for violent behavior.
Smith was reported numerous times to law enforcement, in the years leading up to the shooting.
The FBI even conducted a threat assessment of Smith in 2021. The following day the FBI confirmed it had contacted Smith.
“The FBI previously received information from the public regarding Benjamin Smith,” the agency wrote in a June 2022 statement. “The FBI spoke to Benjamin Smith in 2021 and based upon applicable federal guidelines, no further investigative actions were taken based upon the available information.”
A cousin also reported Smith to Portland police’s non-emergency line in May 2021.
Both the district attorney’s office and Sarre said any sentencing hearing would be set for a later date, presumably to accommodate a number of victims who may wish to give statements.