During a campaign event in North Carolina on Thursday, President Donald Trump boasted about the law enforcement raid that resulted in the fatal shooting of Michael Reinoehl, a self-proclaimed antifa member who was suspected of killing a far-right Trump supporter during protests in Portland.
“We sent in the U.S. Marshals, it took 15 minutes,” he said to cheering crowds. “We got him. They knew who he was, they didn’t want to arrest him. Fifteen minutes, that ended.”
Trump’s boast came as new questions have been raised about Reinoehl’s killing. On Tuesday, the New York Times published an investigation into the events of that day in early September, when members of a U.S. Marshals’ task force gunned down the 48-year-old.
At the time, Reinoehl was in hiding, both from law enforcement and from potential right-wing vigilantes. Five days earlier, Reinoehl had allegedly shot and killed Aaron Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, in Portland. Reinoehl’s affiliation with the antifa movement caused many on the right to claim his actions were reflective of violence on the left.
On Sept. 3, Reinoehl was walking to his Volkswagen when unmarked police cars, carrying members of the U.S. Marshals’ Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force, sped onto the scene to confront him before he could drive away. Some officers on the scene said Reinoehl reached for a gun and four officers responded by shooting at him. According to investigators, the officers fired 37 rounds, killing Reinoehl immediately.
But the Times in its investigation found that out of 22 people identified as witnesses, only one said he could hear the officers identify themselves or give a command before they started firing on Reinoehl. The one who said he had heard something described the noise as indistinct shouting, according to the Times. A number said that the officers began firing as soon as they pulled up. Several witnesses told the reporters that they thought the people shooting were gang members or other violent criminals, not police.
Some of the officers also gave conflicting stories. Two told investigators that they had not seen Reinoehl raise a gun in his car. None of the witnesses who talked to the Times said they saw Reinoehl with a weapon. While Reinoehl did have a handgun on him and an AR-style rifle in a bag in his car, the handgun was found in his pocket when he died and the rifle was untouched. A shell casing was found in the car and sent to a lab to determine if it matches Reinoehl’s handgun.
It wasn’t the first time Trump had praised the fatal shooting. In an interview with the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Sept. 12, Trump even appeared to seek credit for Reinoehl’s death.
“Two and a half days went by, and I put out, ‘When are you going to go get him?’” Trump said. “And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him, in a short period of time. They ended in a gunfight. This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I will tell you something: that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”