PORTLAND – The .380-caliber handgun that police recovered from Michael Reinoehl after officers shot and killed him outside a Washington apartment complex in September was the same gun used in the fatal downtown Portland shooting of a right-wing activist after a pro-Trump rally, forensic tests confirmed.
Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Cameron Simper said Wednesday that investigators seized the gun, test-fired it and sent a casing from it to the Oregon State Police crime lab.
The lab ruled that the casing came from the same handgun that killed Aaron “Jay” Danielson on Aug. 29, Simper said.
Reinoehl, 48, a self-described anti-fascist, was wanted in Danielson’s killing. Danielson, 38, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, was gunned down after a pro-Trump car caravan wound through the city.
Reinoehl died Sept. 3 when officers from the Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force cornered him outside the apartment where he was staying near Lacey, Washington, in an effort to arrest him on a Multnomah County warrant for second-degree murder.
Thurston County investigators also announced Wednesday that they found it “highly likely” that Reinoehl fired a single shot at officers before they fired more than 30 rounds at Reinoehl from two handguns and two rifles.
They can’t say conclusively that Reinoehl fired his gun because investigators never recovered the bullet, Simper said.
“It didn’t impact a person. It didn’t impact a vehicle. It didn’t impact a structure,” Simper said. “But based on witness’ statements and officers’ accounts, it’s highly likely that weapon was fired.”
Investigators suspect Reinoehl fired the shot from the driver’s seat of his car out the front passenger window, Simper said.
A single .380-caliber casing was found in the back seat of Reinoehl’s Volkswagen, a location consistent with the casing ejecting to the right of the gun when fired, Simper said. The right front passenger window also was broken, he said.
Reinoehl was wounded in his car but then got out and ran behind it and collapsed in the street beside a set of mailboxes, the Sheriff’s Office has said. As Reinoehl ran, officers continued to fire at him. He died from gunshot wounds to the head and upper torso, an autopsy found.
After he had collapsed, he still had his hand on his gun “partially withdrawn from his pocket,” according to the investigation. Officers removed Reinoehl’s hand from the gun so they could handcuff him before pumping his chest and doing CPR, according to the investigation.
The gun was loaded, “consistent with one round being gone,” Simper said.
Four officers from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood Police Department and the Washington Department of Corrections fired at Reinoehl. They were part of the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office led the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team in examining the police shooting of Reinoehl. The team completed its investigation Tuesday and turned over its reports to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review, Simper said.