An Oregon man, Benjamin Smith, has been accused of shooting at demonstrators who gathered in a park following Amir Locke’s murder, reported NBC News. Portland protestors were confronted by Smith who drew a firearm, killing one person and injured five other people. He was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and multiple counts of assault.
Demonstrators gathered in a park near downtown Portland Saturday. Per the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, Smith confronted the people and drew fire after several of them asked him to leave them alone.
From NBC News:
“Several participants asked Smith to leave them alone,” the statement says. “Moments later, Smith drew a firearm and fired at the crowd, striking five people.”
The shooting ended after someone returned fire, hitting Smith in the hip area, the statement says. Smith remained hospitalized in critical condition, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said earlier Tuesday.
Authorities initially said the confrontation erupted between an armed resident and armed protesters, but Tuesday’s statement from the prosecutor’s office didn’t specify if the people who told Smith to leave them alone were armed.
Smith’s friends and family spoke about his behavior leading up to the incident. Aurthur Killion, Smith’s brother, said Smith had been bothered by protestors in the neighborhood who allegedly walked around to “intimidate” people, per NBC.
Smith’s roommate, Kristine Christenson, noted his political views have grown intense lately. “He talked about wanting to go shoot commies and antifa all the friggin‘ time. He was just a sad angry dude. … He talked about wanting to do this for a while. He was angry at the mask mandates, he was angry at the ‘damned liberals,’” she said via Oregon Public Broadcasting. She also recalled that he would yell racial slurs in his room.
Brandy Knightly, 60, died on the scene after being shot by Smith. Knightly reportedly became more involved with protesting following a march for George Floyd in summer of 2020, per Oregon Public Broadcasting. The day she died she was helping direct traffic to keep protestors safe.