OREGON (REUTERS) - Police in Portland, Oregon, said they believe a shooting that left one woman dead and five people wounded at a protest over police violence on Saturday (Feb 19) night was triggered by a clash between an armed homeowner and armed demonstrators.
The shooting took place as people gathered in northeast Portland on Saturday to protest the death of Amir Locke, the 22-year-old fatally shot earlier this month by law enforcement in Minneapolis during a no-knock apartment raid.
The Portland Police Bureau said in a statement on Sunday that a preliminary investigation indicated the incident "started with a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters" but that detectives were still struggling to gather evidence.
"The scene was extremely chaotic, and a number of witnesses were uncooperative with responding officers," the police said in the statement.
"Detectives believe a large number of people either witnessed what happened, or recorded the incident as it unfolded. This is a very complicated incident, and investigators are trying to put this puzzle together without having all the pieces."
The police said they found one woman dead when they arrived at the scene in the Rose City Park neighbourhood on Saturday night. They have not identified the deceased or the five wounded people who were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
Protesters at Normandale Park were getting ready to march when a man who lives close by confronted them and later opened fire, striking multiple people, the Oregonian reported on Sunday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The Portland-based newspaper said that at least one protester shot back at the man who had opened fire.
Of the five wounded in the incident, the man is one of three people who suffered life-threatening injuries, the newspaper said.
The police believe the man acted alone and is not affiliated with any political group, the Oregonian said.
The protester who shot back at the man was initially arrested on assault and weapons charges but will likely be released and the charges dropped, the newspaper said.
Portland was rocked by months of anti-racism protests following the death of Mr George Floyd, an African-American who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes in May 2020.
The city has also been a magnet for clashes between political extremists, with violent skirmishes breaking out between people associated with the far-right Proud Boys and members of antifa, the loosely organised anti-fascist movement.
Like many other big US cities, Portland has seen a spike in murders over the past two years, a phenomenon experts have attributed partly to the social disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.