City Manager’s statement on the September 4 demonstration and shooting incident

People from around the state and beyond come to Olympia, the seat of State government, to express their ideas and state their positions, sometimes through protests and demonstrations. The primary purpose and role of the Olympia Police Department (OPD) during public demonstrations is to protect persons, property and the First Amendment Rights of all people. We do this even when our community might vehemently oppose the ideas and positions being expressed.

Our request to those who come to Olympia to exercise their First Amendment Rights is that they respect our home, our property and the safety of our residents. That did not happen yesterday.

Here is how the situation unfolded as City of Olympia staff currently understand it:

On Saturday afternoon, two opposing groups, here in connection with an anti-vaccination demonstration, engaged in a verbal altercation in the area near the Intercity Transit Station on State Avenue. The verbal altercation escalated into pushing and shoving between the groups. A member of one of the groups then produced a handgun and fired several shots, and a member of the other group was struck in the ankle.
The City is aware that one of the groups involved is reportedly a Portland-based Proud Boys group, and the other group involved is reportedly allied with Antifa.

The Olympia Police Department (OPD) was aware of the planned demonstration and was actively monitoring the movement of the two groups through the City. When the shots were fired, OPD officers immediately stepped in, took control of the scene, and provided medical care to the shooting victim until Olympia Fire Department (OFD) units arrived and took over. OFD transported the person to Providence St. Peter’s Hospital for further care and evaluation. Our understanding is that the injury is not life threatening and the person shot is cooperating with authorities.

OPD detectives are reviewing security camera footage from Intercity Transit, and the investigation into the incident continues.

We are also aware of social media reports of a woman being chased and assaulted downtown in connection to the demonstration, allegedly by members of the Proud Boys group. OPD has not received a report about the assault yet, but we encourage anyone with knowledge of this incident to please contact the Police Department so a report can be filed, and the incident investigated.

We are seeking the community’s help on all of these incidents. Anyone with information about the circumstances around the shooting can contact crime stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 with what they know. If anyone witnessed the reported assault or experienced an assault as result of Saturday’s activities, please call Police Dispatch at 360-704-2740 to report the crime.

We are deeply disappointed and angry at these violations of our City’s hospitality and of our resident’s sense of peace and safety. Attacks on people in our community are absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We will investigate, and the ones found responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

I know the community shares my frustration with the behaviors, the violence and the ugliness that took place on our streets yesterday. It’s not what any of us want in our community. Our work together to make Olympia a safe and welcoming place for all people is ongoing, and yesterday’s incident shows us just how much further we have to go to get there.

- Jay Burney, Olympia City Manager
Kellie Purce Braseth, Strategic Communications Director
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