PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation) — One person was shot and killed in Portland Saturday night near clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and counterprotesters, police said.
Portland police said officers responded to sounds of gunfire in the downtown area just before 9 p.m. PT, and located a victim who was shot in the chest. The victim was pronounced dead and a homicide investigation is underway.
It wasn’t clear if the shooting was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by protesters Saturday.
NewsNation affiliate KOIN reported that hundreds of people had gathered for a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally” earlier in the day. The caravan drove from a suburban mall to downtown Portland, arriving just as a protest planned for Saturday was getting underway.
Protesters attempted to stop the caravan by standing in the street and blocking bridges.
Videos from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at opponents and using bear spray as counterprotesters threw objects at the Trump caravan.
Police made several arrests before the shooting and advised residents to avoid the city core.
At around 8:45 p.m. PT, KOIN reporters witnessed an altercation involving two men yelling. They said they saw someone spraying what they believed to be Mace, and then heard shots fired.
An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then observed police medics working on the body of the victim, who appeared to be a white man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past. It remains unclear what connection the victim has to the group.
Portland Police concluded its investigation at the scene and have reopened the street. They ask witnesses to contact Portland Police detectives with information and videos. “This violence is completely unacceptable and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.
“Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street. They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased,” the statement said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler addressed the incident Sunday afternoon and criticized President Trump.
“It’s you who have created the hate and the division,” the Democratic mayor said of Trump. “You’ve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history. And now you want me to stop the violence that you helped create.”
President Donald Trump and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler blamed each other for the violence. Trump called Wheeler a “fool” on Twitter and said to “Bring in the National Guard!” while Wheeler blamed Trump for creating such a toxic environment.
“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Trump wrote. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer.The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”
Many of them end in vandalism and violence, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested by local and federal law enforcement since late May.
The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.
It came two days after Trump criticized Portland as a “Democrat-run” city overwhelmed by violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention.
Many demonstrators told KOIN that they wanted to provide a counterpoint to protests that have been filling Portland’s streets over the past three months.
“I’ve been fortunate to live through and vote in several elections,” Mark Claiborne said. “I can’t remember a time where the difference between the two ideologies and platforms were so diametrically opposed.”
Early Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to call for the National Guard to be deployed to Portland.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KOIN contributed to this report.