A 48-year-old Seattle man was arrested Saturday on suspicion of a hate crime for threatening to kill U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, according to King County prosecutors.
A judge on Monday ordered the man remain jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail but denied prosecutors’ request for an anti-harassment order protecting Jayapal, said Casey McNerthney, a prosecutors spokesperson.
Jayapal, 56, is a former state senator who became the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. A Democrat, Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Seattle. Jayapal was born in India and came to the U.S. at 16 to begin college at Georgetown University.
“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,” spokesperson Siham Zniber wrote in an emailed statement Monday evening. “She is very grateful for the swift and professional response from the Seattle Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the FBI investigators who are working together diligently on the investigation and ensuring that she and her family stay safe.”
Jayapal declined further comment because a police investigation is ongoing, the statement said.
Public records show Jayapal and her husband live a half-mile from the man in Seattle’s Arbor Heights neighborhood.
Seattle police arrested the man outside Jayapal’s house at 11:25 p.m. Saturday after she called 911 and reported an unknown person or people were in a vehicle outside, using obscene language, according to a probable cause statement. She told a dispatcher her husband thought someone may have fired a pellet gun, but he wasn’t sure, the statement says.
Officers found the man standing in the middle of the street with his hands in the air and a .40-caliber handgun holstered on his waist, the probable cause statement says. Police detained the man and secured the gun.
A neighbor told police she heard the man yell something to the effect of, “Go back to India, I’m going to kill you,” the statement says. The neighbor also saw and heard the man drive by Jayapal’s residence at least three times, yelling profanities, according to the statement.
The man told officers after his arrest that he knew who lives in the house and that he wanted to pitch a tent on their property, the statement says.
Under state law, a hate crime — formerly called malicious harassment — is a Class C felony defined as intentionally injuring, damaging property or threatening someone because of their perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory disability.
Prosecutors expect to file criminal charges Wednesday.