OLYMPIA, Wash. - Police in Olympia arrested one person Saturday afternoon following a shooting at a violent protest between two heavily armed groups near the Capitol building.
The Thurston County sheriff’s office confirmed the arrest but didn’t immediately release details. Late Saturday, WSP detectives confirmed to Q13 News a 25-year-old Shoreline man was arrested in connection to the shooting and charged with 1st-degree assault. He was booked into jail.
The Olympia Police Department said the person who was shot was taken to a hospital by other civilians. That person’s injuries are unknown.
Police said they are aware of several videos involving the shooting.
Troopers said the bomb squad responded to the scene when someone reported an IED. It turned out to be a large commercial firework that was lit and thrown into the crowd, but it failed to detonate. It could have cause major injuries had it exploded, troopers said.
As of 6 p.m. Saturday, the protests had subsided, but WSP said "antagonists" remained in the area.
The two groups had opposing political views, and each side was heavily armed with rifles, handguns and clubs, and engaged in violent clashes, police said. Police arrested a person earlier in the day for a firearms violation.
“We’ve had sporadic confrontations between groups throughout the day,” said Sgt. Darren Wright of the Washington State Patrol.
About 100 law enforcement officials with Olympia Police Department, Thurston County sheriff’s office and Washington State Patrol tried to keep the protest orderly. Police declared a riot early in the afternoon and told the crowds to disperse.
Officials described a chaotic, fluid situation where the two groups clashed on the streets in Olympia before moving onto the grounds of the Capital building, where they continued engaging in violence against each other. Many of the protesters wore helmets and carried shields and clubs.
“Both groups were heavily armed, including firearms,” said Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department. “They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs.”
Groups planning demonstrations in the city included a group that wanted COVID-19 restrictions lifted, another protesting President Donald Trump’s loss in the presidential election last month, and a Black Lives Matter counter-protest.
Police said the groups were dispersing away from the Capital and back onto city streets when the shooting occurred. Video in the aftermath of the shooting shows a person on the ground, and another with a handgun walking across a parking lot.