Seattle cops arrest man, seize his AR-15 rifle after sending series of "escalating messages" to pastors at a church
November 17, 2017
(SEATTLE, WA.) -- Seattle Police say they arrested a 25-year-old Covington, Washington man and seized his AR-15 rifle this week after he allegedly sent a series of "escalating messages" to pastors at a University District church, invoking a recent mass shooting at a Texas church and telling them it was “time to engage the artillery and kill you all.”
"The man had previously attended the church, but staff had not heard from him since he threatened to burn the church down a year and a half ago," said an SPD statement on the matter. "That particular threat reportedly came after members of the church had urged the man to seek medical treatment."
In October, the man allegedly began sending emails to the church, stating “people are going to get themselves killed now” and “time to engage the artillery and kill you all.”
Police say twelve days earlier, the man had posted a picture on Facebook of an AR-15 semi-auto rifle and several ammunition magazines, along with the caption “going on an adventure.” Church staff contacted police, who documented the incident but did not arrest the man.
But three weeks later, on November 7th, the suspect allegedly sent another email: “It saddens me that you guys weren’t the ones shot instead of the ones in Texas,” he wrote, two days after a gunman killed 26 people in a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. “I’m hoping someone finds it in their hurts (sic) to burn you all alive in your church building.”
Church staff again contacted police to report the alarming and threatening email, leading SPD’s Crisis Response Team to obtain a court order requiring the man to surrender his firearms.
Police also learned this man had been involved in a similar encounter with a church group in Bellevue. In that case, he allegedly threatened to shoot members of the group after they confronted him about his behavior and a possible connection to mental illness.
On November 9th, SPD’s SWAT team arrested the man at his job while another team of investigators served a warrant at his home.
Police seized the man’s AR-15 rifle from his bedroom and booked him into the King County Jail for felony harassment.
He has since been charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, according to police.