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Slain Portland Protester Supported Right-Wing Group Patriot Prayer


Authorities in Portland, Ore., have identified the man who was shot and killed over the weekend as Aaron J. Danielson. He was a member of the regional far-right political group called Patriot Prayer. That group has been part of the violence happening at protests in that city. Last night, friends of his held a news conference. Oregon Public Broadcasting's Conrad Wilson reports.

CONRAD WILSON, BYLINE: Portland resident Aaron J. Danielson was 39 years old. Friends say everyone called him Jay. The Multnomah County medical examiner determined Danielson's manner of death was homicide, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Police say they're still investigating possible shooters and motives. So far, no arrests have been made. Last night, some of Danielson's friends spoke to reporters in a rose-filled park in Portland's West Hills. Some refused to give their names. Some wept. Luke Carrillo said he was Danielson's business partner.


LUKE CARRILLO: We're here (crying) to allow this community and the world the opportunity to recognize this senseless act for what it was - an unnecessary tragedy that took a good and decent man far too soon.

WILSON: Danielson was killed Saturday evening in downtown Portland after a huge caravan of hundreds of vehicles, which organizers called the Trump 2020 Cruise Rally, drove through the city. At times, the caravan was met by racial justice protesters. A few fights broke out, but the event was mostly peaceful.


CARRILLO: We, his friends and his family, have seen multiple false reports calling Jay everything from a radical to a racist and a fascist.

WILSON: Carrillo, Danielson's friend, says Danielson was none of those things.


CARRILLO: He was not an inciter or an instigator. He was a freedom-loving American who died expressing his beliefs, a right which is guaranteed to all of us through the Constitution. We ask now that Portland, Ore., and the entire country stand together and renounce any further acts of violence. No family or friends should ever have to deal with this type of loss for any reason at all, period.

WILSON: Danielson was a member of Patriot Prayer, which dates back to 2016. The far-right political group has a history of holding rallies in downtown Portland, where they're met by anti-fascist counterdemonstrators. The encounters have frequently turned violent. Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson is facing a felony riot charge stemming from an incident last year. He spoke on the Portland-based radio program "The Lars Larson Show" yesterday. Gibson says he was with Danielson during this weekend's caravan through Portland. On the show, he appealed to supporters to remain calm.


JOEY GIBSON: I know you guys are angry. We want to make sure that we don't do anything stupid. We're not here for revenge and to go attack random people.

WILSON: Gibson says he believes the Portland Police Bureau will find Danielson's killer. He called on supporters to pressure local political leaders to make sure justice is done. On Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also asked for calm.


TED WHEELER: For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek 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 de-escalate this situation.

WILSON: Danielson's friends wouldn't take questions from reporters. His family, in a statement, requested privacy and said they want the violence to stop.

For NPR News, I'm Conrad Wilson in Portland.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SIX PARTS SEVEN'S "NIGHTLONG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.