Washington police kill man at immigrant detention center

A sign opposing the Geo Group the private contractor that operates the Northwest Detention Center hangs on a fence outside the facility in Tacoma Wash. Tuesday

A man armed with a rifle attacked an immigration detention facility in Washington state early on Saturday, throwing incendiary devices at the building and cars in the parking lot before dying after police opened fire, authorities said.

Police arrived at the privately run Northwest Detention Center at about 4am local time after receiving reports that a man was throwing "incendiary devices" at the facility and at vehicles in the auto park, the statement said.

Police said the man caused a vehicle to catch fire and that he attempted to ignite a large propane tank and set buildings on fire. The officers say the man wore a satchel and was holding flares, the Seattle Times reported.

Cool said all four officers fired their weapons, but she didn't have specific details of what took place.

Maru Mora-Villalpando, an activist with La Resistancia, said the coalition was notified of the incident after the fact, but detainees at the facility, including one that she spoke with, have been left in the dark.

Van Spronsen was accused of assaulting a police officer during a protest outside the detention center in 2018, The News-Tribune reported.

Police said operations at the facility had returned to normal.

Van Spronsen is believed to have had previous run-ins with law enforcement at the detention centre. One friend of twenty years, Deb Bartley, told The Seattle Times she and others had received letters from him which read "just saying goodbye" along with what she described as a manifesto.

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The four male officers involved - ⁠ whose tenure with Tacoma police ranged from 20 years to 9 months - were placed on paid administrative leave per department policy.

It is unclear whether the man was shot by officers or shot himself, Cool said.

Police Officer Sam Lopez turns away would-be protesters in front of a road block near the Northwest Detention Center, Saturday July 13, 2019 in Tacoma, Wash.

She added: "I think this was a suicide".

According to court documents, police handcuffed Van Spronsen and found that he had a collapsible baton and a folding knife in his pocket.

It is unknown at this time if the individual was attacking the facility with anti-ICE motivations, anti-migrant motivations, or if it was unrelated to either motive; however, a statement from GEO Group, a Florida based company that operates the facility in Tacoma, attributed the attack to the anger resulting from misrepresentations in media. Violence of any kind against our employees and property will not be tolerated.

Mergensana Amar, 40, was taken off life support after attempting to kill himself while in voluntary protective custody at the detention center on November 15, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

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