A man described as an “anarchist” and “anti-fascist” was killed Saturday morning at a Washington State ICE detention center when he showed up armed with a rifle and incendiary devices.
Willem Van Spronsen, 68, lit a car on fire and tried to ignite a propane tank in order to burn the building down.
Last year, police arrested Spronsen when he protested at the exact same center. During that encounter with the police, he put his hands around a law enforcement officer’s throat while trying to free another protester.
Deb Bartley, a friend of Spronsen, spoke to The Seattle Times and described him as an “anarchist” and “anti-fascist.” She thought he was trying to invoke “fatal conflict.”
“He was ready to end it,” Bartley told the Times. “I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs … I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”
Police first responded to the scene at 4:00 a.m. after an ICE employee saw a man outside armed with a rifle, according to the Tacoma Police Department.
The Tacoma Police Department said the four officers who responded to the scene yelled out to the man, and shots were fired. The police department would not go into specifics on what happened.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security privately runs the complex, which holds people awaiting deportation proceedings.
A solidarity event was scheduled for Saturday afternoon outside of the detention center but was moved to Sunday because of the shooting. The event is meant to show support for detained immigrants.
GEO Group, which operates the 1,575-bed detention center, told the Associated Press in an email that the baseless claims about detainees’ treatment “have led to misplaced aggression and a dangerous environment for our employees.”
Pacific Northwest anti-fascists have been in the news lately because of their use of violence. Earlier this month, Antifa in Portland brutally assaulted conservative journalist Andy Ngo for covering them.
Ngo reacted to Saturday’s event on Twitter.
“That the terror attack on the ICE facility this morning happened in Pacific NW is not insignificant. Those who are eulogizing him now are antifa activists calling him a ‘comrade & martyr.’ Last year he was arrested after attacking police. They found him carrying a baton & knife,” said Ngo.
That the terror attack on the ICE facility this morning happened in Pacific NW is not insignificant. Those who are eulogizing him now are antifa activists calling him a “comrade & martyr.” Last year he was arrested after attacking police. They found him carrying a baton & knife.
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) July 14, 2019
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