Suspect in protest shooting known to FBI
A Portland man accused of shooting into a peaceful crowd in February was contacted months before the shooting by the FBI, due to concerns about his state of mind and potential for violence, according to his former roommate and a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
Benjamin Jeffery Smith faces one murder charge, four counts of attempted murder and four counts of assault for the shooting at Normandale Park in Northeast Portland.
The revelation that Smith was known to the FBI renews — once again — a conversation about the difficulty of preventing gun violence in a society saturated with guns and with few restrictions on their ownership.
When the FBI contacted Smith in 2021, it had already received multiple tips over many years that he might be dangerous. People who met him in online furry communities — groups of people who share an interest in anthropomorphic animals — told OPB that Smith seemed violent and said they had reported him to the FBI in the past.
Months after being contacted by the FBI, Smith, 43, would stand accused of shooting five people with a handgun at a peaceful protest on Feb. 19 in Normandale Park. One person died and another became paralyzed.
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