Elizabeth Hokoana shot a protester because she believed her husband, Marc Hokoana, was in imminent danger of death or serious injury during a Jan. 20 demonstration at the University of Washington, her attorney says.
The wife of the man initially suspected of shooting and wounding a protester during a January demonstration at the University of Washington has told police and prosecutors that she was the person who fired, her attorney said Tuesday.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, the attorney, Steve Wells, said his client, Elizabeth Hokoana, shot the protester because she believed her husband, Marc Hokoana, was in imminent danger of death or serious injury during the Jan. 20 incident in Red Square.
“The evidence shows Mrs. Hokoana was legally justified,’’ Wells said of the incident, which occurred outside a campus hall where then-Breitbart editor and “alt-right” provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was delivering a speech.
The case remains under investigation by the UW Police Department and has yet to be submitted to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which will decide if charges should be filed.
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Marc Hokoana, whose Facebook page has indicated he is a supporter of President Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos and the National Rifle Association, was identified in a Feb. 14 Seattle Times story as the shooter based on court documents and previous accounts of the incident.
A UW police news release issued a day after the shooting stated that a male suspect had turned himself in along with another suspect whose gender wasn’t given, and that both had been taken into custody before being released pending further investigation.
Subsequently, search-warrant documents filed Feb. 9 in King County Superior Court revealed the Hokoanas, both 29, appeared at the UW police station hours after the incident to report they had been involved in a “self-defense” shooting.
According to a police affidavit, the Hokoanas walked into the UW Police Department with their hands up and “stated he was there to report a ‘self-defense’ shooting” at Red Square.
Marc Hokoana told police that the gun used in the shooting and his cellphone were inside his vehicle, parked outside, the affidavit says. After being handcuffed and escorted to a holding cell, he said he wanted an attorney.
Shortly after, Elizabeth Hokoana related that she wanted to report she was involved in a “self-defense” shooting and wanted an attorney, the affidavit says.
No further description of their roles in the shooting was provided in the affidavit, although the documents showed the cellphone was wiped clean of data.
Police seized the gun — identified in the court documents as a Glock handgun — from the vehicle’s trunk, according to a law-enforcement source.
Elizabeth Hokoana declined to comment on the shooting when contacted by a Times reporter on Jan. 23.
Wells, in the interview, said that he, as Elizabeth Hokoana’s counsel, and Kim Gordon, as Marc Hokoana’s counsel, approached UW police and prosecutors about her role as the shooter.
Wells said his client gave permission to relate the information. He declined to say when he spoke with police and prosecutors, but a second law-enforcement source said it was recently.
Gordon said Tuesday the disclosure stemmed from an “ongoing process” involving all the parties.
She said Elizabeth Hokoana didn’t act at her husband’s request but did what she believed was necessary to protect him from imminent death or serious injury.
The search-warrant affidavit identified the shooting victim as Joshua P. Dukes, 34, a computer-security engineer and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer. He suffered life-threatening injuries, underwent surgery at Harborview Medical Center and, according to a hospital spokeswoman, has been released.
Dukes was an early opponent of Yiannopoulos’ appearance at UW and worked to organize resistance among a number of groups. He was “in the crowd of protesters in a physical altercation” when he was shot in the stomach about 8:25 p.m., the affidavit says.
His attorney, Sarah Lippek, said in an email: “Evidence will not show anything that would justify the use of a deadly weapon against my client.”
Wells said he has informed prosecutors that Elizabeth Hokoana has an “excellent” self-defense case, that she should not be criminally charged and that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt could not be proved.
Washington state self-defense laws allow people to protect themselves or others if they believe they face death or serious injury and act in a reasonable fashion, he said.
UW detectives, along with a private technician, have been examining videos of the incident from various sources.
Analysis of video appeared to show Marc Hokoana turning away from Dukes while his wife’s arms were in an extended position, the second law-enforcement source said.
Gordon said the video shows Marc Hokoana in a “position of retreating” and Dukes in a “position of advancing.”
On his Facebook page, Hokoana described himself as a former UW student and said he was in Red Square to attend the Yiannopoulos speech.
He posted that he had been harassed and jostled by protesters who were trying to disrupt the event and keep people out. That post, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, has since been deleted or restricted.
At 7:24 p.m., about an hour before the shooting, Hokoana wrote on Yiannopoulos’ Facebook page.
“Hey Milo,” he wrote. “im outside in line to your UW event.
“I got sucker punched (he was a bit limp wristed) and someone jacked my #MAGA hat,” Hokoana wrote, referring to the ubiquitous red and white “Make America Great Again” caps worn by Trump supporters.
“Anyway for me to get a replacement signed by you?” Hokoana asked
Yiannopoulos did not respond, and Hokoana became caught up in a confrontation between those trying to get inside Kane Hall to see Yiannopoulos and protesters trying to keep them out.
Just before 8:30 p.m., Hokoana was involved in a scuffle with several people before the shooting occurred.
Yiannopoulos spoke to about 200 students in Kane Hall for about an hour, taking aim at political progressives, feminists and academics who condemn hate speech.
He has since come under fire for remarks that appeared to condone pedophilia, resulting in the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinding a speaking invitation, Simon & Schuster canceling publication of his book, and his resignation from Breitbart News.
He later said he doesn’t condone sexual abuse of minors.