Crime, Headline, Politics

Man accused of threatening to kill Pramila Jayapal charged with felony

Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Pramila Jayapal; photo credit: Indian American Impact Fund

Seattle man yelled expletives outside Indian American lawmaker’s home and asked her to “Go back to India”

A 48-year-old Seattle man has been charged with felony stalking following an incident where he allegedly stood outside Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal’s home, yelling expletives while he was armed with a pistol.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday requested $500,000 in bail, claiming the defendant, Brett Forsell, is “likely to commit a violent offense if free in the community,” according to media reports citing court documents.

Forsell also allegedly told investigators he would return to Jayapal’s home as soon as he is released. Forsell was armed with a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol with a live round in the chamber while outside of the representative’s home.

Read: Indian American lawmaker Pramila Jayapal faces racist attack (July 14, 2022)

Forsell was initially released from jail on July 13 four days after being arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime against India-born Jayapal, 56, the first Indian American woman elected to the US House of Representatives in 2016,

Seattle police released him because they could not say with certainty that he told the congresswoman to go back to India or that he threatened to kill her, according to media reports citing King County prosecutors.

Police investigators also did not forward a hate crime case to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as they did not believe a hate crime or malicious harassment had been committed, according to court documents.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Jayapal said filing of charges against Forsell “demonstrates that the justice system is doing its work” and “Now, the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts will do their important work to protect all of us.”

“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,” she stated.

“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, US Capitol Police, and the House Sergeant at Arms for continuing to keep my family, me, and my staff safe,” Jayapal stated. “Now, the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts will do their important work to protect all of us.”

On July 9, Jayapal and her husband heard loud yelling coming from outside their home in West Seattle around 10:30 pm, according to court documents cited by King5.com.

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.”

The couple also heard a voice telling Jayapal to harm herself and other comments alleging she was a communist. 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 reported the incident to 911 and said there was a similar incident in front of her home the weekend before, on July 2.

Later that night, a car returned and sped down Jayapal’s street, revving its engine, before coming to a stop in her driveway, according to court documents. Williamson heard metal pinging noises that sounded similar to a pellet or a bb gun hitting metal.

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.

A neighbor of Jayapal’s said she heard Forsell say something similar to “Go back to India” and threaten to kill Jayapal, according to court documents. The neighbor also reported one of the men, who she believed to be Forsell, was erecting a tent.

Forsell later 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, according to court documents.

Forsell admitted to yelling profanities but denied making comments about Jayapal’s race or ethnicity, or telling Jayapal to harm herself. Forsell also 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.

Forsell said he then returned home and got into an argument with his mother, who told him to leave his home, according to court documents. Forsell told FBI agents he returned to Jayapal’s property and began setting up a tent on the other side of the road from her house.

Read: Man accused in threats to kill Rep. Pramila Jayapal charged (July 28, 2022)

Forsell also said he had been drinking that night and he struggled with mental illness, according to court documents. Forsell described his action’s toward Jayapal as a “manifestation of a manic episode.”

Video given to investigators by Williamson captured two voices yelling expletives in front of Jayapal’s home, including one comment including the word “India,” but investigators could not be sure whether or not it was Forsell’s voice making that comment, according to court documents.

Another voice could be heard “telling Pramila to kill herself,” but the voice did not sound like Forsell’s, according to court documents

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