Police arrested a 25-year-old Covington man and seized his AR-15 rifle this week after he sent a series of escalating messages to pastors at a University District church invoking a recent mass shooting at a Texas church and telling them it was “time to engage the artillery and kill you all.”
The man had previously attended the church, but staff had not heard from him since he threatened to burn the church down a year and a half ago. That particular threat reportedly came after members of the church had urged the man to seek medical treatment.
In October, the man began sending emails to the church, stating “people are going to get themselves killed now” and “time to engage the artillery and kill you all.” Twelve days earlier, the man had posted a picture on Facebook of an AR-15 rifle and several ammunition magazines, along with the caption “going on an adventure.” Church staff contacted police, who documented the incident.
But three weeks later, on November 7th, the suspect sent another email: “It saddens me that you guys weren’t the ones shot instead of the ones in Texas,” he wrote, two days after a gunman killed 26 people in a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. “I’m hoping someone finds it in their hurts (sic) to burn you all alive in your church building.”
Police also learned the man had been involved in a similar encounter with a church group in Bellevue. In that case, the man threatened to shoot members of the group after they confronted about his behavior and a possible connection to mental illness.
On November 9th, SPD’s SWAT team arrested the suspect at his work while another team of investigators served a warrant at the man’s home. Police seized the man’s AR-15 rifle from his bedroom and booked the man into the King County Jail for felony harassment. He has since been charged by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.