One person was shot dead in Portland late on Saturday as protesters from rival groups clashed in the northwest U.S. city, which has seen frequent demonstrations for months that have at times turned violent.
Police statements on Saturday said both the death and protest violence took place in Portland’s downtown area. However, they did not immediately link the shooting death to the protests.
“A Homicide Investigation is underway in downtown Portland after a shooting Saturday evening,” a Portland police spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Sounds of gunfire were heard in the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street, according to the statement.
“(Police) responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased,” the statement said.
The police said they were not currently releasing suspect information.
When asked by Reuters if the shooting in downtown Portland was related to the clashes between rival protesters in the same are, the spokesman said “it is too early in the investigation to draw those kinds of conclusions”.
A New York Times report cited two unidentified witnesses saying a small group of people got into an argument with other people in a vehicle and someone opened fire.
The man who was shot and killed was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in Portland that has clashed with protesters in the past, according to the newspaper. Reuters could not independently verify this.
Separately, Portland police earlier said in a tweet that a “political rally is caravanning throughout downtown Portland” and that there had been “some instances of violence between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators.”
Police had intervened and made some arrests, the tweet said.
Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Tensions between rival protest groups have roiled downtown Portland every night for nearly three months following Floyd’s death.
President Donald Trump’s administration in July deployed federal forces to Portland to crack down on the protests.