This report was originally posted by our sister blog, the Portland Mercury. Read the Mercury team's reporting every day on their blog, Blogtown.

Police collect evidence shortly after a mass shooting in Northeast Portland on Saturday, February 19.
Police collect evidence shortly after a mass shooting in Northeast Portland on Saturday, February 19. MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND

The man responsible for fatally shooting one woman and injuring at least three others Saturday night in Northeast Portland has been identified by local journalists, activist researchers, and police as Ben Smith. Smith's identity was verified by the Oregonian and OPB Monday night after speaking with his neighbors and family members. Police shared his name in a Tuesday morning press release.

Smith, 43, has lived in an apartment across from Normandale Park for more than a decade, and has harbored growing animosity against Black Lives Matter protesters, COVID-19 mask mandates, unhoused Portlanders, and liberals, according to his roommate, Kristine Christenson.

Smith's brother told the Oregonian that Smith would often complain about the Justice for Patrick Kimmons demonstrations that regularly took place in Normandale Park. Kimmons was a Black man killed by Portland police in 2018. Kimmons supporters had gathered Saturday evening at Normandale to hold a demonstration in support of Amir Locke, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police earlier this month.

Christenson told the Oregonian that Smith collects guns, and kept at least four in his bedroom.

“He talked about wanting to go shoot commies and antifa all the friggin‘ time,” Christenson told OPB. “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.”

According to witnesses, Smith approached four unarmed woman gathered near Normandale Park Saturday night and yelled at them to leave. The women were all volunteers, assisting march organizers in slowing traffic to allow demonstrators to march down the street. Within minutes, Smith had allegedly opened fire on the four women, striking all four with bullets. One of the women, June Knightly, died at the scene.

Someone in the protest group allegedly returned fire, striking Smith. That person has not been identified. According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), Smith remains in the hospital "in serious condition." He has not been charged with any crime, more than 48 hours after the mass shooting took place.

PPB has shared little information about the incident. Much of what the bureau has made public appears to be inaccurate. In a press release sent Sunday afternoon, PPB reported that the Saturday incident started with a "confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters." Smith does not own the apartment complex he lives in, and it appears he was the sole individual who initiated the confrontation.

PPB has also refused to explain whether anyone has been arrested in relation to the shooting. Asked to clarify this position, PPB spokesperson Nathan Sheppard said that the reasoning is "complicated."

"Unfortunately, not all cases are simple," Sheppard wrote in an email to the Mercury. "In some, a determination has to be made of who is a suspect and who is a victim. Cases can be fluid, and as additional facts are learned, who is a victim and who is a suspect can also change."