Seattle Man Charged With Stalking Congresswoman

Neighbors said he shouted threats outside home of Rep. Pramila Jayapal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2022 7:07 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2022 9:59 AM CDT
Man Accused of Threatening to Kill Rep. Jayapal Gets Out of Jail
Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks as members of Congress share recollections of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the US. Capitol on the anniversary of the attack Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.   (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Update: A Seattle man who was arrested, then released, after allegedly threatening to kill Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal earlier this month has been charged with felony stalking. Prosecutors said Brett Forsell, 49, was charged after new evidence emerged, Fox reports. After his July 9 arrest, authorities said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him with a hate crime. Neighbors said Forsell, who was armed, shouted obscenities and threats including "Go back to India, I'm going to kill you" outside Jayapal's home. Prosecutors say he was armed with a deadly weapon and had stalked Jayapal due to her position as an elected official. Our original story from July 15 follows:

A man accused of threatening to kill Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal was released from jail after prosecutors failed to file charging documents in time. Neighbors heard the 48-year-old man shout "Go back to India, I'm going to kill you" as he stood outside Jayapal's Seattle home with a holstered handgun at his waist Saturday night, according to a police report. A neighbor told police that the same man drove past Jayapal's home three times that night yelling obscenities, KING5 reports. In a 911 call at 11:25pm, the lawmaker told police that unknown people outside her home were using "very obscene language" and her husband thought they might have fired a pellet gun.

The suspect, a Seattle resident, was released Wednesday night because charging documents were not filed within 72 hours of the incident, MyNorthwest reports. King County prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing but they don't have evidence at this time that a hate crime was committed, reports the Seattle Times. Police have obtained an Extreme Risk Protection Order requiring the man to surrender his firearms. The suspect's mother told police he had been struggling with mental health issues and she was worried he might harm himself.

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King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office spokesperson Casey McNerthney tells the Times that the incident was "disturbing and unacceptable" and prosecutors are taking it very seriously. McNerthney said the office is working with police to "make sure we understand the full extent of the suspect’s actions to build the strongest case possible." Jayapal, 56, came to the US from India 40 years ago and has been an American citizen since 2000. In the 2016 election, she became the first Indian American woman to serve in the House of Representatives. (More Pramila Jayapal stories.)

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