Edmonds police arrest suspect after swastika painted on car at Westgate Chapel

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Edmonds police reported yet another incident of swatiska painting, as a 21-year-old Edmonds man was arrested Wednesday after the symbol was painted on a car at Westgate Chapel Sunday morning.

According to Edmonds police spokesman Sgt. Josh McClure, the man was booked into Snohomish County Jail Wednesday for third-degree malicious mischief.

The swastika was spray painted Sunday morning on the side of a vehicle belonging a woman who is a member of Westgate Chapel, McClure said.

Asked if the victim was targeted in any way, McClure said the police investigation showed “that this was completely random and the suspect did not even know who owned the car.”

The man was charged with malicious mischief “after a thorough review of the suspect’s interview, RCW 9A.36.080, and a briefing of the case with a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office,” McClure said.

RCW 9A.36.080 is the state law that covers malicious harassment. Sunday’s incident did not meet the criteria, under that RCW, to be treated as malicious harassment, McClure said.

McClure said that prior to Sunday’s incident being reported, an alert Edmonds Police Department sergeant working security at the church recognized the suspect from previous encounters, and saw that there was spray paint on his fingers. After the victim reported the damage, the suspect was located in the area and interviewed. Police received permission to search the suspect’s vehicle and collected evidence but there was no probable cause to make an arrest at that time, McClure said.

Detectives interviewed the suspect again early Wednesday at the Edmonds Police Department. As a result of that interview, the suspect was arrested and booked into jail.

Police are investigating whether there is any connection between Sunday’s incident and past incidents of swastikas being painted on buildings and vehicles in Edmonds and unincorporated Esperance, and the painting of racial slurs at Edmonds’ Madrona K-8 School.

“The suspect was not a student or employee at the school,” McClure said. “It is also important to note that there may be one or more suspects responsible for these other acts, and they may or may not be related to the Westgate Chapel incident.”

Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said he shares “the concern of our community that we have had another incident of this nature. It is important to know that Edmonds PD will continue to investigate each instance and make an arrest where appropriate,” Compaan said.

“The symbol used in this crime does nothing but signify hate. In this case, the suspect was booked for the crime of malicious mischief based on evidence available to us, and after consultation with the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office. Our investigation continues.”

If you have any information, call the Edmonds PD tip line at 425-771-0212 or email epdtips.edmondswa.gov

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