- A protest against police violence was underway when he opened fire.
- Last year saw a record high number of shootings and 90 homicides in Portland.
- Authorities blamed arguments involving gangs, drug dealing and disputes among homeless people for the increase in shootings.
A 43-year-old man confronted protesters against police violence in a Portland, Oregon park, asked them to leave and then pulled out a pistol and opened fire, killing a woman and injuring her. injured four others, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Officers responding to reports of a shooting Saturday night discovered the woman’s body and took the injured – two men and three women – to an area hospital. According to police, the shooting began with a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters.
“The scene was extremely chaotic and several witnesses were uncooperative with responders,” the Portland Police Office said in a statement. “Most of those present at the scene left without speaking to police.”
Police identified the shooter as Benjamin Smith, 43, on Tuesday. He remained hospitalized in critical condition as of Tuesday, according to authorities.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced nine charges against Smith on Tuesday, including one count of second-degree murder with a firearm, four counts of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, and two counts of assault first-degree assault with a firearm, and two counts of second-degree assault with a firearm.
His office said the district attorney also searched and received a warrant for Smith’s arrest.
Smith’s roommate, Kristine Christenson, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Smith often criticizes the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding COVID-19 masks, crime in the neighborhood, and homeless people living near a park next to their apartment.
Police also identified the woman who died in Tuesday’s shooting as Brandy Knightly, 60. Friends and relatives say Knightly is known for helping people in the city’s active protest movement.
Her friend Kathleen Saadat told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Knightly was dedicated to acting on her values of justice and fairness.
“She was such a warm, giving and kind person, she spent her time trying to think about the things she could do to make the world a better place and make herself a better person on the planet. world,” Saadat said.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, one of the other victims was “paralyzed from the neck down. “Three other people were shot in various places, and one is still hospitalized.
Authorities said a protest against police violence was taking place near the city’s Normandale Park when the confrontation began. Such protests have become a recurring theme in Portland, a center of the national movement to bring down the police ever since. George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police in May 2020.
According to the district attorney’s office, video evidence shows Smith confronting a group of protesters at a park in Northeast Portland.
Officials said he approached some of the protesters and yelled at them to leave the park. Some of them asked Smith to leave them alone.
According to the district attorney’s office, he then pulled out a gun and opened fire on the crowd, hitting five people. The shooting ended after Smith was shot in the hip, according to authorities.
Detectives said they believe a “large number” of people witnessed what happened and may have recorded the incident.
“There were a lot of people there, but not many people wanted to talk to the police,” Sheppard said. “This is a very complicated case, and investigators are trying to put this puzzle together without all of the pieces.”
Police are asking anyone with information or video from the scene to provide coroners.
Sheppard was asked if the community should be concerned that more violence could be on the way.
“There are a lot of guns in our city,” Sheppard said. “There are a lot of responsible gun owners and there are also irresponsible ones. So can I unequivocally say there’s no danger?”
Mayor Ted Wheeler acknowledged in a tweet late Sunday that many details remained unclear.
“We know one thing for sure – our community is facing the sadness of another senseless act of gun violence,” he said.
City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty echoed the sentiments, calling the shooting “heartbreaking.”
“While we need more information on what happened, I can say that protesting racial justice never jeopardizes those exercising their First Amendment rights,” Hardesty tweeted. .
Portland, like many large cities, is grappling with increasing gun violence. Last year saw a record high number of shootings and 90 homicides in Portland. The previous record was 66 homicides. And there were more shootings in January 2022 than in January 2021, according to police data.
Police and city officials say the violence has taken its toll on the Black community the most. They blamed controversies involving gangs, drug deals and disputes among homeless people. The situation is exacerbated by the pandemic, economic hardship and mental health crisis.
“We are experiencing a public safety crisis and it is affecting everyone,” City Councilor Mingus Mapps said in a statement.
Contribution: Associated Press