The gun that an alleged Antifa terrorist pointed at police officers in Washington state while attacking an immigration facility malfunctioned, police said in an update on the investigation.
Willem Van Spronsen was shot dead on July 13 after hurling firebombs at the facility and cars in the parking lot in Tacoma. He also tried blowing up a large propane tank and was armed with a gun, the Tacoma Police Department said in a statement.
In an update on July 18, the department said it found that Van Spronsen’s gun, which he is accused of pointing at police, appeared to have malfunctioned, reported the Tacoma News-Tribune.
Officials said the attack seemed to have planned, with detectives finding large amounts of ammunition, flares, and Molotov cocktails inside a school bus where the Antifa member lived.
“This could have resulted in the mass murder of staff and detainees housed at the facility had he been successful at setting the tank ablaze,” Shawn Fallah, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resident agent in charge, said.
Van Spronsen’s ex-wife wrote in a petition seeking protection orders against him earlier this year that he talked of being killed by the police while committing an anarchist action.
“He would also talk about dying for a cause and anarchist actions,” she wrote, among other concerns. “This was near the end of our marriage. I found it very scary and upsetting because I believed he would do it, even if it hurt someone and even if he died as a result.”
The order was granted and made it illegal for Van Spronsen to possess firearms.
Police also said that the three-page manifesto Van Spronsen left behind was sent to several people before Van Spronsen went to the Northwest Detention Facility but that none of the people alerted the police.
Friends of Van Spronsen told KIRO that they got the manifesto Friday night, hours before the Saturday morning attack. Those friends were not identified.
One friend said the alleged terrorist wanted to die.
“He was ready to end it,” Deb Bartley told the Seattle Times. “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.”
In the manifesto, Van Spronsen urged others to take up arms.
Van Spronsen last year was arrested after jumping on the back of a police officer during a protest at the same immigration center, according to court documents obtained by KOMO.
“Van Spronsen wrapped both of his arms around Officer Robillard’s neck and shoulders,” while the officer was trying to detain a protester, the documents stated. Officers found Van Spronsen armed with a knife and baton.
Antifa, which Van Spronsen claimed allegiance to, is a far-left, communist-rooted group that openly advocates violence against people who express ideas they label “facist,” which includes a number of mainstream conservatives. President Donald Trump called them “evil” this week., describing the group as part of “the rise of a dangerous, militant hard left.”
Police said Van Spronsen had been a member of the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club. On its website, the club states that it is “an anti-fascist, anti-racist, pro-worker community defense organization committed to accountable, community-led defense in the Puget Sound (aka Salish Sea) region of western Washington.”