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Man charged with double murder was arrested at Portland riot days before and released without bail

A rioter, currently accused of stabbing two civilians to death in June, was arrested at a violent protest in downtown Portland just one week earlier and quickly released without bail.

Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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A rioter currently accused of stabbing two civilians to death in June was arrested at a violent protest in downtown Portland just one week earlier and quickly released without bail.

39-year-old Phillip Lawrence Nelson was previously taken into custody by the Portland Police Bureau the morning of Jun. 12 for interfering with a peace officer, a class A misdemeanor, Multnomah County Detention Center booking information reads. His criminal charge was not pursued by the district attorney at the time and dismissed the next day, KOIN 6 News reported.

Nelson now faces two counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bail. Several days after the Antifa protest incident, he allegedly stabbed Cassy Leaton, 22, and Najaf “Nate” Hobbs, 39, on Jun. 16 near Northeast Davis Street.

This case parallels the fatal Portland shooting on Saturday night in which an alleged Antifa militant, Michael Forest Reinoehl, killed a Trump supporter, Aaron "Jay" Danielson. Reinoel was also arrested at a prior Antifa riot in July and charged with illegally possessing a loaded firearm among other crimes. He was similarly let go without spending time in the county jail and the charges levelled against him were never pursued by local prosecutors.

Early Jul. 5  outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, Reinoehl was cited for possessing a loaded gun in a public place, resisting arrest, and interfering with police. He was photographed fighting officers while on the ground while a gun laid beside him.

In a third gun-related incident, Reinoehl was shot in the arm in late July when he attempted to wrestle a gun from a stranger during a scuffle in downtown Portland, The Oregonian reported. Reinoehl’s wounding occurred after a brawl began in Lownsdale Square, the city park across the street from the federal courthouse. Marquise "Keese" Love had joined the fight, who himself was arrested in a separate brutal assault in August caught on camera when he allegedly kicked a man's bleeding head and knocked him unconscious.

However, in this case, Nelson did not appear to have a criminal history in the state of Oregon. According to court records for the double murder, Nelson reportedly told authorities that he was homeless, dwelling in the Portland area for two months before the crime occurred.

It's speculated that the murder stemmed from an ongoing dispute between the victims and the suspect. Records show that the deceased's roommate told police that the three of them were initially renting the unit in a fourplex from Nelson, who claimed to be the owner of the building. When the trio realized that Nelson was actually just squatting there, they immediately changed the locks to their unit, enraging Nelson as a result.

On the afternoon of the homicides, surveillance footage filmed Hobbs and Leaton entering the basement of their building where the water control is located. The pair returned upstairs, but then retreated just a minute later. Afterwards, the video captured Leaton escaping from the basement while stumbling and shouting for help before collapsing. Bystanders rushed to her side but failed to revive her.

Both victims were stabbed numerous times, according to the medical examiner. A police officer reportedly found Hobbs’ body on the stairs followed by a trail of blood leading towards the basement. The officer also allegedly found a long-bladed knife and a “significant amount of blood” inside the basement.

The surveillance video allegedly captured Nelson fleeing through the back door of the unit as witnesses attempted to save Leaton. Detectives also reportedly discovered blood stains on the inside and outside handles of the door.

On the night of Nelson's arrest on Jun. 18 two days after the stabbing, the detainee listed the lower left unit of the fourplex as his address, police cited. He was booked into the Multnomah County Inverness Jail in East Portland.

Nelson is scheduled next to appear in court on Sept. 28.

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