Portland man charged with murder after deadly shooting at protest

Portland officials have charged a 43-year-old man in the deadly shooting at a protest against police violence over the weekend.

Multnomah county deputy district attorney Mariel Mota said on Tuesday that investigators had concluded Benjamin Smith confronted protesters in a Portland park on Saturday night, told them to leave and then drew a pistol and opened fire, killing a woman and wounding four other people.

Mota’s description was the first detailed official account of the bloodshed. It came as Oregon’s biggest city is experiencing a sharp rise in gun violence and after Portland was an epicenter in Black Lives Matter protests.

Smith “approached the demonstration and confronted several of its participants, yelling at them and demanding they leave the area,” Mota said in an affidavit, citing videos shot at the scene. After several protesters told him to leave them alone and go home, Smith said they should “make” him leave and approached a person aggressively, who pushed Smith back.

Moments, later Smith drew his gun, Mota said.

Brandy “June” Knightly, 60, was shot in the head at close range and died on the scene, Mota said. Smith stopped shooting only when someone fired back, striking him in the hip area, Mota said.

Smith is in critical condition in a hospital under police guard. He was charged Tuesday with murder in the second degree with a firearm, four counts of attempted murder in the first degree with a firearm and assault.

It was not immediately clear if Smith had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Knightly was remembered Tuesday as a woman who stood up for others.

“As a community this is deeply wounding and distressing,” Portland city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said. “June was part of a group of unarmed women peacekeepers who supported racial justice demonstrations and engaged in compassionate work with the homeless.”

One of the wounded was shot in the neck and is paralyzed from the neck down, Mota said. Two people were shot multiple…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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