A Pinkerton Security agent, 30-year-old Matthew Dolloff, is currently in jail on suspicion of homicide after shooting and killing a far-right Trump supporter, identified as 49-year-old Lee Keltner, during a pro-police “Patriot Rally” in Denver, Colorado, on Saturday. The event, held at the Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, was organized by Donald Trump supporter and longtime Blackwater mercenary John “Tig” Tiegen.
At the same time as the far-right rally, a separate rally organized by various local groups dubbed the “Black Lives Matter-Antifa Soup Drive” was held nearby. Dolloff was working as private security for Denver television station 9News, which reported that they had contracted private security for their reporters when covering protests.
Throughout his time in office, President Donald Trump has targeted journalists, whipping up his fascistic base at rallies by labeling the media and reporters as “fake news” and “enemies of the people.”
Most recently in Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Louisville, Kentucky, and Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, journalists have been targeted by far-right protesters and police, who resent having their brutal activities documented and published on social media. The US Press Freedom Tracker, which documents incidents of aggression against the press, has documented 215 physical attacks so far this year, including 153 by police.
The killing of Keltner marks at least the 30th protester killed since initial nationwide protests against police violence began following the May 25 murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Keltner was the first person killed during a protest since August 29, when “Patriot Prayer” member Aaron “Jay” Danielson was shot and killed in Portland, Oregon after getting into an altercation with protesters, one of whom was later identified as Michael Forest Reinoehl.
At the time that Danielson was killed, he was armed with bear mace, a retractable metal baton as well as a handgun. Speaking to Vice News less than 48 hours before being assassinated by a special US marshal “task force,” Reinoehl insisted the shooting was in self-defense. “I had no choice,” he said. “I mean, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that.”
Reinoehl was subsequently hunted down and assassinated by a police task force led by US Marshals. Trump boasted that his killing was “retribution.”
Keltner, similar to Danielson, was also armed with bear mace, and police have stated they recovered two handguns at the scene, one belonging to Dolloff. Prior to the shooting, freelance photographer Ben Kile on Twitter provided video evidence of Keltner threatening him earlier in the day for filming, tweeting, “the man shot and killed today in Denver ... tried to smash/steal my camera earlier in the evening for filming them.”
In a video recorded right before and as the shooting occurred, Keltner can be seen holding a can of bear mace in his hand as he and several others got into a verbal altercation with a single man wearing a “Black Guns Matter” shirt. Police have confirmed that they have recordings of the full incident as well but have yet to release them. Photos taken at the time of the shooting show Keltner striking Doloff in the face, knocking off his hat and sunglasses and then spraying him with the mace. Doloff responded by shooting him once in the chest. Keltner died within an hour of being shot.
Doloff was employed by Pinkerton Security, one of the most notorious security agencies in US history, with over 160 years’ experience in suppressing, assaulting and beating workers on behalf of capital. Within minutes of the shooting, far-right media outlets and personalities, including Andy Ngo, Tim Pool and Dinesh D’Souza, tried to paint the killing as the latest example of “BLM/Antifa” violence. This prompted Joe Montoya, division chief of investigations for the Denver Police Department, to unequivocally state during a Saturday press conference that the “private security guard [had] no affiliation with Antifa.”
Leading up to the rally Tiegen set the stage for a violent confrontation, saying the rally was intended to show that he and other Trump supporters were ready to “fight back, push back. Time to take our country back.” Speaking to local station KNUS earlier in the week, Tiegen said, “I’m not going in there to do violence, but I’m going to be prepared to do violence.” He threatened that if he was attacked, he would respond “10 times fold.”
Tiegen joined the Marine Corps when he was 17, and after four years he left the Marines to do a brief stint as an HVAC repairman. Shortly thereafter he joined the notorious Blackwater contracting firm founded by Erik Prince where he spent 13 years as a private mercenary for US imperialism, deploying overseas more than 40 times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Tiegen then left Blackwater to work for the Central Intelligence Agency’s Global Response Staff, where he made his name in far-right conservative circles for his role during the seizure of the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya by US-supplied terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The ties between Tiegen and the Trump administration are numerous. In addition to working for a quarter of his life for Prince, brother of current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Tiegen filed the requisite paperwork in November 2019 to get Trump on the ballot in Colorado. He was also instrumental in organizing anti-lockdown rallies in Colorado throughout the summer, including a “rally to reopen Colorado” motorcycle rally.
In a Facebook post promoting that rally, Tiegen, wearing military fatigues and carrying an M-4 assault rifle, wrote, “ITS TIME TO FIGHT BACK PUSH BACK & TAKE OUR FUCKING COUNTRY BACK!” His anger was in response to a restaurant, which had its license suspended for opening up during the statewide lockdown, which had guests packed inside without masks. Reminiscent of threats against Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who was the target of a recently exposed fascist plot to kidnap and kill her, Tiegen directed his ire at Democratic Colorado Governor Jared Polis writing, “Let’s Stop the threats from our government. Let’s Stop the overreach of POLIS and his unelected Despots.”
Meanwhile in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 28 people were arrested Friday night and an additional eight on Saturday in ongoing protests following Wednesday’s decision by Democratic Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm that there would be no charges against Wauwatosa police officer Joseph Mensah, who shot and killed 17-year-old African American youth Alvin Cole on February 2. Mensah, who is also black, has killed three people in the last five years. Police backed by National Guard soldiers deployed tear gas and impact munitions against protesters.
Protesters, including the family of Cole, have been quickly set upon and arrested by police for “violating curfew” during the protests. However, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that five vehicles full of heavily armed white men were allowed to “patrol” residential neighborhoods past 11:20 p.m., over four hours after curfew.
Matthew Procknow, a resident, confronted the group of men after he saw them parked in front of his home, asking them if he could help. Speaking to the Journal Sentinel, he said he did not see any badges, yet the men said they were “with the police” and “here to protect you.” When Procknow pressed further, one of the men got out of the vehicle and threatened to arrest him for obstruction. At that point Procknow stated his wife came out of the house with their dog, prompting the man to shout an expletive before getting into the vehicle and driving away. Procknow reported the suspicious men to the Milwaukee police, who then chastised him for being outside on his lawn and that he should “just stay in your house.”
On Saturday, during the 123rd consecutive night of protests in Portland, Oregon, police charged protesters before they began marching and before an “unlawful assembly” was declared. The police beat and teargassed the group of roughly 100, arresting 26 people. Most of those arrested were charged with interfering with peace officers and disorderly conduct, even though legal observers did not witness any crimes being committed. On Sunday, heavily armed Trump supporters menaced and threatened protesters for over an hour before leaving under the watchful protection of the Portland Police Department.