Days before the nationwide opening of the movie, “Joker,” a grim and violent origin story about Batman’s nemesis, Redmond police seized assault-style rifles and handguns from a 23-year-old Redmond man who allegedly posted a disturbing social-media message and photo referencing the film, according to police and court records.
Redmond police on Wednesday obtained a temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO) and went to the man’s house, where they seized eight firearms, numerous high-capacity magazines and the man’s concealed-pistol license, said police spokeswoman Andrea Wolf-Buck. Though the man claimed his social-media post was a joke, detectives — who also found several of the man’s posts advocating violence against women — still plan to seek a full ERPO, which, if approved by a judge, would keep guns out of the man’s hands for one year, she said.
In 2016, Washington voters overwhelmingly approved an “extreme risk” law to allow law enforcement officers and family members to ask a judge to keep firearms out of the hands of someone deemed a danger to themselves or others, even if no crime had been committed. Since then, ERPOs have been used to seize guns from people threatening suicide and those who have displayed warning signs sometimes associated with mass killings.
The Seattle Times is not naming the Redmond man because he has not been charged with a crime. He moved to Redmond a couple of months ago and obtained his concealed-pistol license in Kent in May, Wolf-Buck said.
Redmond police provided additional security over the weekend at one movie theater showing “Joker,” Wolf-Buck said. Other cities across the country also had extra layers of security during screenings of the film, the Associated Press reported. The film earned $93 million at the box office during its opening weekend, according to Rotten Tomatoes, an online aggregator of movie and TV show reviews.
According to the petition for an ERPO filed in King County Superior Court last week, the Seattle Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit came across the man’s social-media posts during an unrelated investigation Tuesday and forwarded information to Redmond police detectives.
In one photo, the man was “holding two AK-47 type firearms, one in each hand, pointed toward the ceiling,” the petition says. “His index finger is on the trigger on both his right and left hand.”
The man captioned the photo, “one ticket for joker please,” and posted it Sept. 26, the petition says. Police viewed it as an implied threat of a possible mass shooting.
The petition goes on to explain that the U.S. Army and FBI have issued warnings of potential mass shootings at screenings of the film based on social media posts by people who call themselves “incels,” a shortened term popularized in internet forums for “involuntary celibate.” The Redmond man refers to himself as an “incel,” the petition says.
The man’s “threats of recent mass violence coupled with a history of prior threats to harm and kill women” demonstrate he is “a risk to public safety if he is allowed to continue to purchase, possess, or access firearms,” the petition says.
Other recent posts by the man include photos of himself with multiple guns inside his house and firearms tucked into his waistband as well as photos of loaded high-capacity magazines and at least one photo of the man with a gun pressed to his face, according to the petition. Copies of the photos, which were posted to Twitter, are included in the petition.
As of Monday, it appeared the man’s Twitter account had been deactivated.
Police also found earlier posts, in which the man wrote, “I will shoot any woman any time for any reason,” and, “I really want to just punch a woman so hard her entire body just buckles and collapses.”
The petition says the man bought a 9-mm handgun earlier this year and a .380 pistol last year. He also posted online about using gun kits to build “ghost guns,” firearms without serial numbers, the petition says.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that parts used to make “ghost guns” were seized from the Redmond man. While the man had posted online about ghost guns, no parts were found when police seized his firearms.