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Seattle man Brett Forsell was charged by local police Wednesday with felony stalking for allegedly yelling expletives as he stood outside US Representative Pramila Jayapal’s home armed with a pistol.
Court documents indicated that the King County Prosecutor’s Office requested $500,000 in bail, claiming the defendant is “likely to commit a violent offense if free in the community.”
However, Forsell has not been charged with any hate crime, according to court documents.
Congresswoman Jayapal’s office issued a statement Wednesday expressing confidence in the justice system. “The news today from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office that they have charged Mr. Forsell with felony stalking demonstrates that the justice system is doing its work,” Jayapal said in the statement. “I am grateful to the King County Prosecutor’s Office for holding this man accountable for his dangerous actions, to the victim’s advocate for her assistance throughout the process, and to the Seattle Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police, and the House Sergeant at Arms for continuing to keep my family, me, and my staff safe. Now, the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts will do their important work to protect all of us.”
According to local media, Forsell allegedly told investigators he would return to Jayapal’s home as soon as he is released. Forsell was reportedly armed with a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol with a live round in the chamber while outside of the representative’s home, according to court documents.
In an email to indica, King Country Prosecutor’s office spokesperson Casey McNerthney, said, “Additional evidence was gathered by police investigators and referred to prosecutors prior to this charging decision. As part of the felony charge, we note that the defendant was armed with a deadly weapon and that the victim was stalked in connection with her elected position. King County prosecutors argued that Mr. Forsell is a danger to the community and should be held in jail on $500,000. A judge approved that amount. Earlier this month, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office also assisted Seattle Police in getting an Extreme Risk Protection order, which remains in effect.
McNerthney added, “Based on the evidence provided so far by police investigators, prosecutors believe we can prove Felony Stalking beyond a reasonable doubt. Police investigators did not refer a Hate Crime case to our office for a charging decision.”
Forsell’s next court appearance is an arraignment scheduled for August 10 in the King County Courthouse.
As reported by indica earlier, Jayapal and her husband were at their residence on July 9, when they heard loud yelling around 10.30 p.m. Court documents said Jayapal’s husband, Steve Williamson, went out on the front porch to investigate and the couple heard male voices yelling expletives and saying “Go back to India.”
When Williamson opened the door, he said one of the males got back into a vehicle driven by the other male and sped away. Jayapal said there was a similar incident outside her residence on July 2 as well.
That was not the end of her ordeal. According to court documents, a speeding car made a loud revving sound the same night on her street before coming to a halt in her driveway. Williamson said he heard metal pinging noises that sounded similar to a pellet gun.
Jayapal told the lead investigator Detective Sarah Mulloy that she was shaken by the incident because “the males sounded angry, nasty and (displayed) vitriol towards her.”
According to Mulloy’s report to the court, Williamson told Jayapal to go upstairs for her safety and call 911. Williamson said the man was aggressive and was getting out of his car and coming toward the couple’s driveway.
Soon after, Seattle police arrived on scene and arrested Forsell for malicious harassment.
Mulloy’s report says she reviewed five video recordings of nearby street cameras.
According to court documents, Forsell told Seattle FBI agents that he had gone to pick up his son on the night of July 9 and instructed him to drive past Jayapal’s home. He admitted to yelling profanities but denied making comments about Jayapal’s race or ethnicity, or telling Jayapal to harm herself. The documents say that Forsell admitted to driving past Jayapal’s house and yelling expletives another time. He said his only bias against Jayapal was her political beliefs and her status as a democrat, according to court documents.
He said that he later returned home and got into an argument with his mother, who told him to leave his home, according to court documents. Forsell admitted to the FBI that he had started setting up a tent on the other side of the road from Jayapal’s house. He said he had been drinking that night and that he struggled with mental illness.
Mulloy’s report specifically exonerated Forsell of any hate crime or malicious harassment had been committed.
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