What To Know Today
A suspect was identified in the shooting at a protest in Portland, Oregon, that left one dead and five injured. The incident happened Saturday night during a protest against police killings. Police said the shooting was the result of a confrontation between an armed local resident and armed protesters, but have given few details about the status of the investigation nor commented on it since Sunday. Subsequent reporting based on testimony from neighbors, witnesses, family, and the roommate of the suspected shooter identified him as 43-year-old Portland resident Benjamin Smith. His roommate, Kristine Christenson, told OPB that Smith had become increasingly angry over numerous issues, including constant protests in the city and Portland’s unhoused population. “As the years went on, he’s just gotten more and more radicalized,” she said, adding that the police came to their apartment on Monday night with a search warrant looking for guns and computers. Dajah Beck, 39, told The New York Times she was shot twice while working as part of the protest’s safety team. She said a man approached her small group of volunteers, hurling a misogynistic vulgarity at them, calling them “violent terrorists,” and threatening to shoot them before quickly making good on the threat, killing one person and injuring four others, including Beck. Witnesses told The Oregonian/OregonLive that after Smith shot into a crowd, a protester returned fire and critically injured Smith. The deceased was identified as 60-year-old June Knightly, a fixture of the city’s protest community.
The relatively small number of young people driving the bulk of shootings in Washington, D.C. A report from the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, which is working with the District on a plan to diagnose and reduce the city’s gun violence, concluded that at least 500 identifiable people annually drive 60-70 percent of the city’s shootings — and likely no more than 200 individuals at any given moment in time. The report analyzed D.C.’s 341 homicides in 2019 and 2020 and found that the average age of a homicide victim was 31 and the average age of a suspect was 27. They found that guns were used in 85 percent of all homicides, over 90 percent of victims and suspects were male, and about 96 percent of victims and suspects were Black. Moreover, about 86 percent of victims and suspects had been known to the criminal justice system, and a sizable number had previously been victims of a violent incident. Personal disputes were the most common cause of a homicide, making up 21 percent of all cases. Out of crisis, opportunity: “This very small number of high risk individuals are identifiable,” David Muhammad, the executive director of NICJR, told DCist about the report’s findings. “Their violence is predictable and therefore it is preventable.” He added: “It’s extremely difficult engaging a 25-year-old who has seven previous adult arrests, who is an avowed member of his neighborhood clique, who’s not currently interested in services, but that is the individual we have to serve. That’s the individual we have to pour resources into.”
California legislators introduce bill to enforce state assault weapons ban by letting private citizens sue gunmakers. On Friday, state Democratic lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom made good on their earlier pledge to model a pro-gun reform bill off Texas’s new statute that bans most abortions by outsourcing enforcement to private citizens. The California bill would let people seek a court order to curb the spread of assault weapons and recover at least $10,000 in damages for each gun. Gun rights groups pledged to challenge the measure in court should it become law. A federal judge struck down California’s assault weapons ban last June, though a federal appeals court ruled that the law should remain in place while appeals are being litigated. Related from The Trace: In a recent installment of Ask The Trace, Jennifer Mascia spoke with two legal experts to help make sense of California’s possible gun law and the broader ramifications of states emulating the Texas abortion law for gun policy.
Denver to expand program that enlists mental health professionals for emergency response. In June 2020, the city launched the Support Team Assisted Response, which sends a team of paramedics and mental health clinicians to handle some nonviolent 911 calls in the place of police. Since then, STAR teams have responded to more than 2,700 calls. Last week, the City Council unanimously approved $1.4 million to extend the program through December and expand its size. Related from The Trace: As cities experiment with alternatives to traditional policing, STAR is one of a growing number of similar programs.
Prosecutors: Killers of Ahmaud Arbery acted with “racial hatred.” Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan were convicted of murder in state court late last year and sentenced to life in prison for the 2020 killing of the 25-year-old man in Georgia. Now, a federal hate crimes trial could add additional life sentences if jurors determine that the three white men targeted Arbery because he was Black. Jurors are set to begin deliberations for a second day this morning.
14 — the number of gun homicides so far this year in Portland, Oregon, according to the city’s police, part of more than 200 shootings that have left 50 people injured. Last year, Portland saw a record 90 homicides. [The Washington Post]