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Oct. 24, 2020

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Detectives say Michael Reinoehl pointed handgun at officers at the time he was fatally shot near Lacey

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Michael Forest Reinoehl pointed a handgun at officers when he was shot and killed near Lacey by members of a federal task force who moved in to arrest him on a murder warrant stemming from a fatal shooting of a Patriot Prayer supporter in Portland in late August, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

Detectives said Reinoehl was armed with a .380-caliber handgun when he was killed on Sept. 3, according to the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.

Officers at the scene told investigators they saw Reinoehl point the gun at them, Thurston County Lt. Ray Brady said.

A spent shell casing of that caliber was found in Reinoehl’s station wagon, and an AR-15 style .22-caliber rifle was located in the front seat, according to the sheriff’s office. The serial number on the rifle had been removed. The sheriff’s office declined to say where the handgun was recovered.

Ballistics tests are being conducted to determine if the .380-caliber handgun that Reinoehl had that Sept. 3 night was the same gun used in the Aug. 29 fatal shooting of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, on Southwest Third Avenue in Portland.

Reinoehl died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and upper torso, according to the county coroner.

Four officers from several Washington law enforcement agencies assigned to the U.S. Marshals Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force were serving the arrest warrant when they shot and killed Reinoehl.

The four officers are from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood Police Department and the Washington Department of Corrections.

Thurston County Sherif’s Office is the lead agency investigating the shooting as part of Washington’s Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team, according to Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Brady.

Reinoehl, a self-described anti-fascist who said he provided security for Black Lives Matter protests, was wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron “Jay” Danielson, 39, on Aug. 29 shortly after a pro-Trump caravan drove through downtown Portland. Patriot Prayer is a loosely organized right-wing group based in Vancouver that has often come to Portland to clash with left-wing, antifa opponents. A .380-caliber gun was used in Danielson’s fatal shooting, police said.

The night Reinoehl was killed, the U.S. Marshals Service issued a statement that said, “Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Nathaniel Dingess, 39, who lives in the apartment complex where Reinoehl was found hiding, issued a statement days later through a lawyer, saying officers yelled no warnings or commands before firing at Reinoehl, who he said was walking toward his car holding a cellphone when officers drove up outside. Dingess said he never saw a handgun on Reinoehl or saw him reach for anything.

Investigators don’t have video of the actual shooting, only a video capturing moments after the shooting, according to Brady. Anyone with additional information or video is encouraged to contact detectives at Thurston County Sheriff’s detectives at 360-786-5500.

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