A 48-year-old Seattle man arrested on Saturday on suspicion of committing a hate crime against U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal was released from jail on Wednesday.
King County prosecutors say Seattle police released him because they couldn’t say for sure he told the congresswoman to return to India or threatened to kill her. , reported the Seattle Times.
Court records show Seattle police on Wednesday obtained a temporary extreme risk protection order to force the man to surrender his firearms and concealed pistol license, citing concerns about escalating behavior toward Jayapal and the increase in mental health problems.
The investigation is ongoing. Prosecutors have not declined to file a criminal complaint but currently have no evidence to prove a hate crime was committed, said Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County prosecutor’s office.
Prosecutors have 72 hours, excluding holidays and weekends, to file a complaint against a detained person. If charges are not filed by then, the person should be released from prison.
“At a time of heightened political violence, security concerns against any elected official must be taken seriously, as we do here,” McNerthney wrote in an email Wednesday. “The investigation is ongoing and our office is working with police investigators to ensure we understand the full extent of the suspect’s actions in order to build the strongest case possible.”
In 2016, Jayapal became the first Native American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. The Democrat leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus. A spokesperson for Jayapal did not immediately respond to an email from The Seattle Times seeking comment on Wednesday.
Seattle police arrested the man outside Jayapal’s home in the Arbor Heights neighborhood at 11:25 p.m. Saturday after he called 911 and reported that an unknown person or people were in a vehicle using obscene language , according to the statement of probable cause. She told a dispatcher that her husband believed someone may have fired a pellet gun, the statement said.
Officers found the man standing in the street with his hands up and a handgun to his waist, according to the probable cause statement.
A neighbor told police she heard the man shouting something like, “Go back to India. I will kill you,” the statement read. The neighbor also saw and heard the man walk past Jayapal’s residence at least three times, shouting profanity, the statement said.
A detective met with Jayapal’s husband, who provided video clips of their home security system, according to the protective order request. In one clip, the last part of the word “India” can be heard, followed by an expletive rant directed at Jayapal, according to the petition. In another clip, the man can be seen approaching the house shouting profanity about being Jayapal’s neighbor, followed by the sound of metal.
The detective could not be sure if the noise came from a handgun being erected or from metal tent poles as the man attempted to pitch a tent on Jayapal’s property, according to the petition.
Police learned the man emailed Jayapal’s public account in January saying he disliked him because of his “perceived political wrongdoing,” the petition said. He also drove past her home and shouted obscenities at her repeatedly since late June, according to the petition.
The petition notes that the man told officers he wanted to buy an assault rifle for protection, but denied saying anything about Jayapal’s ethnicity or threatening to kill her.
The man’s mother told police that her son had recently not eaten or slept and was struggling with pain from a work injury and with managing his mental health, according to the petition. She told police it was not a good idea for her son to have access to firearms.
Within 14 days of a temporary protection order being issued, a full hearing is held before a judge at which a defendant can challenge it. The judge then decides to refuse or grant a permanent order, which prohibits the respondent from possessing or purchasing firearms for one year.