A supporter of a conservative group who was shot dead on a Portland, Oregon, street was mourned by both friends and President Donald Trump while an online fundraising effort raised tens of thousands of dollars in his memory.
Just hours before he was shot in the chest on Saturday night, 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson and a friend were seen heading downtown to protect a flag-waving caravan of Trump supporters.
They wore hats with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a group that advocates for free speech and small government, and appeared armed with paintball guns.
“Paint is a defensive mechanism. Paint is not bullets,” Trump said during his White House briefing on Monday, adding that someone connected with violent riots “shot a young gentleman and killed him. Not with paint but with a bullet.”
In cellphone video of the shooting, both Danielson and his assailant were seen on a darkened street.
At least three shots rang out in a smoky haze, followed by images of Danielson crumpled on the ground as the friend, Chandler Pappas, slaps him in the face and rolls him over, yelling “Jay! Jay!”
“He was a good man and he was just killed senselessly for no reason other than he believed something different than they do,” Pappas told supporters during a rally on Sunday.
“He was Christian. He was conservative.”
Added Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson on his Facebook page: “We love Jay and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived.”
Ex-girlfriend Christine Banks said Monday that Danielson didn’t discuss politics much but condemned the weeks-long riots in Portland: “He didn’t think it was right. … He was there for peace.”
Banks said Danielson was a good person who loved nature and animals.
“If you ask anybody, the one thing they’ll remember him by is his goofy, beautiful smile,” she said. “He cared about what you believed in and not the color of your skin.”
A GoFundMe site late Monday said it had raised $33,000 from more than 900 donors for “legal/lawyer fees, and towards fulfilling all other incurred costs in this time of need.”
Danielson helped run a company in Portland called North West Specialty Moving that focused on transporting heavy items such as marble statues, hot tubs and gun safes.
Luke Carrillo, Danielson’s long-time business partner, said they’d been friends for 20 years.
Exclusive: The victim of last night’s deadly shooting in downtown Portland is Aaron Danielson, who went by Jay. His family has been informed of his death.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 30, 2020
“We have lived and worked together day in and day out,” he told reporters. “We are like brothers, brothers that chose one another.”
Danielson is associated with another company, Oregon Pro Arms LLC, which according to state records is focused primarily on moving gun safes.
Just hours before the shooting on Saturday, Pappas stood in a mall parking lot in suburban Clackamas talking to a reporter from the Portland Tribune.
The man next to him who appeared to be Danielson didn’t say much, except to make a reference to a journalist who had been attacked last year in Portland.
“We’re all about independent journalism,” the man said.
Referring to the Trump caravan, Pappas said, “I’m here to stop people from assaulting these people.”
Portland police have yet to make an arrest. On Monday, they asked for witnesses and those who had taken video of the scene to contact them.
A small memorial to Danielson took shape on Monday on a sidewalk in front of the parking structure where he collapsed.
It included four yellow daises tied to a tree, a small American flag flapping in the wind and a sympathy card with a Bible verse and handwritten note.
“Jay went to Jesus, where will you go?”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.