The attorney for the wounded man says her seriously injured client feels “empathy” for the man who shot him and wants to meet with him.
The man who told police he shot and wounded another man during a violent demonstration over the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington sent a social-media message to the Breitbart News editor just an hour before the shooting.
“Hey Milo,” the 29-year-old former UW student posted to Yiannopoulos’ Facebook page at 7:24 p.m. “im outside in line to your UW event.
“I got sucker punched (he was a bit limp wristed) and someone jacked my #MAGA hat,” he said, referring to the ubiquitous red and white “Make America Great Again” caps worn by supporters of President Trump.
“Anyway for me to get a replacement signed by you?” the man asked
Yiannopoulos did not respond, and the man went on to be caught up in a raucous confrontation between those trying to get inside the UW’s Kane Hall to see Yiannopoulos and protesters trying to keep them out.
Sometime just before 8:30 p.m., the man — who at this point was wearing a yellow hat — was involved in a scuffle with several people, and he allegedly shot and wounded the other man.
The man and his wife surrendered to UW police several hours later, claiming he fired in self-defense, according to law-enforcement officials. He was questioned and released. The Seattle Times is not naming the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
A law-enforcement source familiar with the UW police investigation said detectives obtained a search warrant for the man’s car and Sunday recovered a handgun from the trunk.
The man’s Facebook page indicates he is a supporter of Trump, Yiannopoulos and the National Rifle Association.
Efforts to reach the man Monday were unsuccessful. The man’s wife, reached by telephone Monday, said she would not comment.
UW Police Major Steve Rittereiser declined Monday to discuss details of the investigation, saying the department’s five-member detective team was working with Seattle police and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
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He said the work included interviewing witnesses and studying videos of the incident supplied to investigators. Seattle police have offered technical expertise to study the video, he said.
Samie Frites, a nursing assistant who said he had gone to the protest “to make sure nobody got hurt,” said he saw a man pull “something out of his coat and started firing these little projectiles into the crowd.”
The law-enforcement source said it was pepper spray.
“I yelled at him to stop,” Frites said. “That’s when this other guy came out of the crowd and went after him.”
Frites said he grabbed him to try to prevent a confrontation. That’s when Frites said he heard a “muffled noise,” which he is now sure was the gunshot.
“The guy I was holding looked back at me over his shoulder. He looked bad. He was really scared,” said Frites, who said he lowered the wounded man to the ground.
The shooting victim’s condition improved to satisfactory and he was moved out of the intensive-care unit Monday night at Harborview Medical Center.
Several sources have identified the victim as Josh Dukes, 34, a Seattle computer-security engineer and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) General Defense Committee, which describes itself as an “anti-racist and anti-fascist organization.”
His Seattle attorney, Sarah Lippek, confirmed his identity, although she said Dukes was concerned about his name being made public “as the risk of harassment and threats is very real, and my client needs time to rest and recover from his injuries.” Lippek said Dukes planned to issue a public statement at a later date.
Lippek said Dukes attended the event “in order to resist Mr. Yiannopoulos’ message through principled protest.”
“He is aware that there are many conflicting narratives circulating about what occurred that night,” Lippek said in a statement released Monday evening. “My client wishes to express his empathy for the person who shot him. He hopes to engage in constructive dialogue with that person, in order to de-escalate and provide a community-based response to this violence.”
The IWW has created a Crowdwise social-media funding page to raise money for his hospital expenses. So far, it has raised more than $42,000.
Dukes was an early opponent to the appearance of Yiannopoulos at the UW and worked to organize a resistance among a number of groups, including the IWW and the Capitol Hill Neighborhood Action Coalition, where he posted a link to a document outlining how anti-Yiannopoulos forces had rallied against the Breitbart editor at other colleges where he has appeared.
Yiannopoulos’ visit to the UW campus was highly anticipated, and there were rumors that protesters would try to shut down the speech by the senior editor at Breitbart News, which has been denounced by many as a platform for hate. Yiannopoulos has been permanently banned from Twitter for racism and misogyny.