FBI To Help Portland Police Investigate Fatal Shooting At Pro-Trump Caravan

Two federal agencies are stepping in to help local police investigate a fatal shooting that took place after a large group of right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump and members of a violent far-right group drove a caravan of cars through Portland, Oregon.

A spokesperson for Attorney General William Barr said Sunday that agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were currently in Portland “actively offering support and resources” to police.

The shooting took place on Saturday night after the caravan, which was led by the right-wing political group Patriot Prayer, drove through Portland and was met with counterprotesters, according to The Associated Press. The Oregonian estimated that there were nearly 1,000 cars in the caravan.

At times during the demonstration, members of the caravan used paintball guns to shoot at counterprotesters, who threw objects at the cars, according to reports. Event organizers reportedly urged attendees to bring firearms with them but not display them openly.

Portland police said the victim was found with a gunshot wound to the chest in the city’s downtown. While officials haven’t released the name of the victim, Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson described him as a “friend and supporter” of the far-right group, The Oregonian reported

Portland police said in a statement Sunday that they were still in the initial stages of the investigation and urged the public not to make any conclusions about the shooting. They called for witnesses to come forward and for people to turn in video of the shooting.

“It is still early in this investigation, and I ask everyone to give the detectives time to do their important work before drawing conclusions about what took place,” police chief Chuck Lovell said in the statement. “If anyone can provide information about this case, I ask them to please reach out to our detectives. This violence is completely unacceptable and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible.”

Patriot Prayer has traveled to Portland multiple times in the last three years to hold pro-Trump demonstrations that have led to violent clashes with anti-fascist activists. 

Trump paid tribute to the victim, who was identified in a tweet on Sunday.

Trump did not offer such a tribute on Twitter for the two people who were fatally shot less than a week earlier by a teenage supporter of the president in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Those victims were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man left paralyzed by seven gunshots.

In a televised statement on Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, accused Trump of creating “hate and division” in America, which he said fueled the violence in his city.

“You’ve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history. And now you want me to stop the violence that you helped create,” Wheeler said.

Trump responded in a tweet, threatening to send more federal law enforcement to Oregon.

There have also been anti-racism protests and related civil unrest in Portland, as part of the wave of demonstrations that have taken place across the country since the death of George Floyd, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest in May.

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