Police in Vancouver, Washington, faced a second night of protests on Friday after officers fatally shot a 21-year-old Black man in a bank parking lot Thursday night.
Clark County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Kevin Peterson, Jr., 21, near a U.S. Bank just prior to 6 p.m. Thursday. The officers involved have not been named. Protesters gathered near the site of the shooting Thursday night, and mourners planned to gather at the site Friday night for a vigil.
Police didn’t offer any details about the shooting until Friday afternoon, when Sheriff Chuck Atkins said the deputies had been conducting a narcotics investigation when they began their pursuit of Peterson on foot.
“A foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County sheriff’s office were chasing a man with a firearm. The information I have, is that upon entering the parking lot of the bank, the man repeatedly, reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed as the scene,” Atkins said at a brief press conference.
Peterson had called his girlfriend Olivia Selto just before the incident, and she was still on the phone with him when he was shot, according to The Oregonian. She said she heard the gunshots. The couple had a child together, Kailiah Peterson.
“I told him I loved him as many times as I could and he said it back,” she told the paper, adding that the last thing she heard from him was “a few heartbreaking sounds.”
Kevin Peterson, Sr. said of his son, who had five siblings, “He wasn’t a problem child at all. He was a good kid. He didn’t have a record, nothing. It’s sad this happened to him.” He said he was not allowed to identify his son until early the following morning.
The Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team has taken over the investigation into the shooting, which Atkins said he “fully supported.” At a press conference Friday, Atkins said, “Since it’s not my investigation, I’m waiting along with you for some of the information I need.”
Atkins said he supported demonstrators who planned to gather.
“It is right and correct that the community should grieve alongside his family,” he said. “I have a team working to ensure that people can come on over and hold a peaceful whatever-you-want-to-call-it, obviously they’re going to be allowed to do that. It’s something we expect, and they have a right to come over and pay their respects.”
A Friday night vigil in Peterson’s honor drew mourners as well as a crowd of right-wing protesters, some of them heavily armed, or flying pro-Trump and pro-police flags. An independent journalist on the scene reported that people in the pro-Trump demonstration pointed guns at her, while another journalist reported that gunshots were fired, likely from a black pickup truck believed to be associated with the right-wing group.
A person believed to be associated with the pro-Trump demonstration also drove a makeshift tank around the scene. Journalist Cory Elia filmed a different flag-waving pickup truck speeding through a protest area, nearly hitting some demonstrators, as well as a fist fight breaking out between opposing sides, leading to at least one person being pepper-sprayed in the face.