Portland unrest over police shooting

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON (AP) – Tensions boiled over into unrest late Friday following a vigil for a Black man shot and killed by law enforcement in a city near Portland, Oregon, in southwestern Washington state.

Mourners gathered in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated area of Vancouver, Washington, where family and friends said Kevin E Peterson Jr, 21, was shot on Thursday night. The city is about 12 miles north of Portland.

Hundreds of people gathered for the vigil on Friday evening, with some holding signs reading, “Honk for Black lives. White silence is violence” and “Scream his name”.

Nearby, tensions flared between left- and right-wing protesters. Video recorded by journalists in a parking lot showed two groups of people shouting at each other. Also, some armed demonstrators gathered near a building they told reporters they were protecting.

The crowds ultimately fizzled out near the vigil but a group of hundreds of protesters later marched through downtown Vancouver. Windows were shattered, flags were burned and federal agents clothed in riot gear surrounded a building — warning people that trespassing on federal property would be subject to arrest.

A woman lights a candle as people gather for Kevin Peterson Jr, who was killed in Thursday’s shooting with police, at a candlelight vigil in Vancouver, Washington. PHOTO: AP

Family and friends had described Peterson as a former high school football player and the proud father of an infant daughter.

In a statement, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said a joint city-county narcotics task force was conducting an investigation just before 6pm on Thursday and chased a man into the parking lot of a bank, where he fired a gun at them. A firearm was recovered at the scene, Atkins said.

Authorities have not named the person who was shot, but Kevin E Peterson Sr told The Oregonian/OregonLive the person was his son, Kevin E Peterson Jr. Atkins referenced the Peterson family in his remarks but did not confirm Peterson was the person who was killed.

“I can say that our agency is grieving as is the Peterson family and the community,” Atkins said. “As the community grieves, I call for there to be a respectful and dignified observance of the loss of life in this matter. There is always the potential for misinformation, doubt and confusion – and there may be those who wish to sow seeds of doubt.”

The investigation has been referred to the Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team, and the Camas Police Department is taking the lead, Atkins said.

Investigators said on Friday evening that the narcotics task force had contacted a man suspected of selling illegal drugs in a motel parking lot and that he fled on foot with officers following.

The man produced a handgun and the officers backed off, investigators said. A short time later, the man encountered three Clark County deputies, all of whom fired their pistols at the man, they added. They did not say the man fired a handgun found at the scene, making it unclear what happened just before the shooting.