Willem Van Spronsen attacked the center with incendiary devices before being shot dead. In an earlier 2018 protest outside the facility, Van Spronsen “was accused of lunging at a police officer’s neck to help free a 17-year-old protester who was being detained”
Willem Van Spronsen, 69, of Vashon Island, Washington, attacked an ICE Detention Center in Tacoma earlier today with incendiary devices and while armed with a rifle. He was killed in a shootout with police.
The NY Times reported:
The police fatally shot a man who was attacking an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday morning, the authorities said.
The man, who was armed with a rifle, was throwing unspecified “incendiary devices” at the Northwest Detention Center, according to a police statement. The man, identified by officials on Saturday afternoon as Willem Van Spronsen, 69, of Vashon Island, Wash., continued throwing lit objects at buildings and cars, the statement said.
“One car was fully engulfed in flames,” said Officer Loretta Cool, a spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department. “He was also trying to ignite a big propane tank but he was not successful.”
The Seattle Times reports that Van Spronsen was involved in previous protests and violence at the center, and was described by a friend as :
Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and antifascist, and believes his attack on the detention center intending to provoke a fatal conflict.
“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “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.”
She and other friends of Van Spronsen got letters in the mail “just saying goodbye.” He also wrote what she referred to as a manifesto, which she declined to discuss in detail but predicted would be taken by authorities….
Maru Mora-Villalpando, an activist with the group La Resistancia, which has frequently protested the conditions at the detention center and broader immigration policy, said she did not know Van Spronsen himself. Nor was La Resistencia involved with the June 2018 protest at which he was arrested, she said.
The 2018 protest involved about 160 people outside the detention center. About 40 people blocked a police car that had arrived, prompting the officer to call in backup; about 25 officers responded.
In court documents, Van Spronsen was accused of lunging at a police officer’s neck to help free a 17-year-old protester who was being detained. Van Spronsen refused to comply with officers’ orders, and as he was led through a crowd of protesters, police said he tried to pass the baton to another protester. Van Spronsen was punched in the face at least once during the altercation. Nine other people were arrested as well.
He ultimately pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to one count of obstructing an officer, a gross misdemeanor, and received a one-year deferred sentence in October, according to court documents, which labeled him indigent. He had no previous criminal history, according to court records.
MORE TO FOLLOW
He’s being treated as a hero in Antifa and anti-ICE circles.