49-year-old Brett Forsell has been charged for allegedly yelling racially-charged threats at Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) while standing outside of her home.
According to court documents, Forsell stood outside the progressive politician's home, yelling threats and using obscene language at 11:25 pm on Saturday July 9. Jayapal's husband told 911 dispatchers that he believed the man may have shot a pellet gun, but he was unsure, according to police.
Responding officers saw Forsell in the middle of the street with his hands in the air and a .40-caliber handgun holstered on his waist.
Forsell told investigators that he knew the house was Jayapal's, and that he wanted to pitch a tent on her property. Neighbors told police they heard Forsell yell something to the effect of, "go back to India, I'm going to kill you." According to the same neighbor, the man drove by Jayapal’s home at least three times, yelling profanities. Forsell was arrested and booked on the charge of malicious harassment.
In a statement issued to local media outlets, Jayapal's office said, "Congresswoman Jayapal confirms that incidents occurred at her Seattle home on Saturday night when she was present. The Congresswoman and her family are safe and appreciate the many calls and good wishes she is receiving from constituents. She is very grateful for the swift and professional response from the Seattle Police Department, the US Capitol Police, and the FBI investigators who are working together diligently on the investigation and ensuring that she and her family stay safe. Because this is an ongoing investigation, she will not be commenting further at this time."
Jayapal was one of 27 Democrats who voted against a bill which passed in The House last month 396-27, to increase security for Supreme Court justices' immediate families, less than a week after a man was arrested for allegedly plotting assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office recommended that Forsell be held on $500,000 bail, arguing that he is a danger to the community. According to the prosecuting attorney’s office, Forsell could also be charged with a hate crime.
At Forsell’s first court appearance, the judge agreed to the $500,000 bail at his first appearance but declined to issue a criminal harassment order of protection. Prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges on Wednesday.
Under Washington state law, a hate crime is a Class C felony and is defined as intentionally injuring, damaging property or threatening someone because of the victim’s ancestry, color, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory disability.
In 2016, Jayapal, became the first Indian American woman elected to the US House of Representatives.
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