At around 8 p.m. Saturday, Linda Karna was startled by loud voices close by her home just across the street from Normandale Park in northeast Portland.
She looked out the window and saw about eight to 10 people engaged in an argument. Less than five minutes later, she said she heard a series of shots, so she and her husband, Gene, ducked down in the back of their house.
“I have heard gunshots around the neighborhood occasionally, but nothing like that has ever happened, and we have lived here for 31 years ” Karna said in a Sunday interview.
The Portland Police Bureau said one female victim died in the Saturday evening gun violence, and two men and three women were transported to area hospitals with injuries.
On Monday, the victim was identified to The Seattle Times by a family member as June Knightly, a Portland resident.
The Oregonian, citing friends, described Knightly as a “fixture of the Portland protest movement” who often helped drive people to and from different parts of a demonstration.
The shootings occurred as Portland activists assembled in the park before what social media posts described as a protest march in support of victims of police shootings, including Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man shot and killed Feb. 2 in Minneapolis.
Saturday’s Portland mass shooting is another wound in a city reeling from gun violence. Portland last year had a record number of homicides and a surge in shootings that has continued in 2022.
In a statement released Sunday, the Portland Police Bureau said a preliminary investigation indicates the Saturday shooting near Normandale Park started with a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters.
Karna said that the street she lives on was lined with vehicles as people assembled for the Saturday evening protest. She said the argument she witnessed took place as a group gathered around a red pickup, a vehicle that she had not seen parked by her house before that evening.
Karna said she did not know what the dispute was about, but “I didn’t really want to listen to it.”
Karna said police vehicles converged on her block within minutes after the shooting.
The Portland Mercury reports that a woman wounded in the shooting says a man exited a house, yelled about protesters in the neighborhood and “opened fire within 90 seconds.” The woman, who requested anonymity out of fear for her safety, said she was standing in the street to direct traffic away from the march, unarmed, and was about 10 feet away from the man when he shot her, according to the Portland Mercury report. The encounter was recorded on her GoPro camera, which the police have taken as evidence, the woman said.
In its Sunday statement, the Portland Police Bureau said, “the scene was extremely chaotic, and a number of witnesses were uncooperative … Most people left without talking to police. 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.”
In an online meeting with reporters Sunday afternoon, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman, Lt. Nathan Sheppard, said he could not comment on whether any arrests have been made. “As we learn more, things may change,” Sheppard said.
On Sunday morning, Sheppard tried to give a live update to reporters on the Normandale shootings and other incidents but was disrupted by demonstrators.
“We are dying. … I want to know if any of you care. I want to know if this police officer cares,” cried a woman in a pink coat. “We have been out there two years protesting against police-sanctioned violence.”
Also Sunday, a vigil was held at the park where the protesters had assembled Saturday evening. During the afternoon, small groups of people gathered by a pavilion that sheltered a makeshift memorial with candles, flowers and posters.
“Stand Up, Fight Back,” was printed on one of the posters.
Knightly was described by a friend to The Oregonian as dedicated to acting on her values of justice and fairness.
“She was a warm, giving and kind person who spent time trying to think of things she could do to make the world better and to make herself better in the world,” Kathleen Saadat said.
On her Facebook page, Knightly posted to encourage donations for school supplies and food and other aid for unhoused people.
“What’s important is sharing what we have with others, if we can,” read a Nov. 10, 2021 post on Knightly’s Facebook page.