Oregon Man Pleads Guilty In BLM Protest Murder

On Feb. 19, a machinist told a group of people protesting at Normandale Park to leave, according to court documents. Benjamin Smith, 44, aggressively approached the group protesting against police killings last year and shot at them, prosecutors said. When someone in the group said to Mr. Smith that he should leave and go home, Mr. Smith responded that they should “make” him leave, an arrest affidavit states.

Mr. Smith aggressively approached someone in the group, who pushed him back, according to the affidavit. He continued to yell at the group before drawing his gun and firing at them, the authorities said. Ms. Knightly was shot in the head at close range and died on the scene, the authorities said at the time. A person returned fire during the episode, injuring Mr. Smith, who was shot near his hip, the affidavit states.

Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other charges, the authorities said. Authorities said he confronted the group protesting at a park near his house. He also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder, three counts of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault, according to records from the Multnomah County Courthouse.

One person was struck in the neck and was in critical condition, paralyzed from the neck down, according to the affidavit. Another victim was struck in several places and was also hospitalized. Two other victims were struck, and later released from an area hospital, according to the affidavit. 

His roommate, Kristine Christenson, said in an interview in February, 2022, that Mr. Smith had been radicalized in recent years, professing his hatred for Antifa, Black Lives Matter and “those damn commies.” Mr. Smith faces a maximum possible penalty of life in prison at his sentencing on April 18. None of the women were armed.