Man charged with hate crime following threats against former Edmonds animal control officer

Snohomish County prosecutors have charged 34-year-old Sean Robert Wagner of Cle Elum and Port Orchard with a hate crime offense, alleging that he “maliciously and intentionally” threatened then-Edmonds Animal Control Officer Tabatha Shoemake, a Black woman, based on his perception of her race and putting her in “reasonable fear of harm.”

A hate crime offense is a felony under Washington State law RCW 9A.36.080. Charges were filed on Oct. 29.

According to papers filed with the court, the incident began at approximately 4:30 p.m. April 14 when Edmonds police were dispatched to the Travel Lodge Motel in the 23800 block of Highway 99 to investigate reports of puppies that had been “howling for two days” from inside the back of a truck parked at the motel.

Officers were not able to locate the owner of the truck; he was not in his room, and repeated attempts to call his cell phone were unsuccessful.  Officer Shoemake determined that the temperature inside the truck bed exceeded 100 degrees. This led officers to decide to seize the dogs and bring them to the Lynnwood PAWS shelter until the owner could be contacted. The officers left a note in the truck informing the owner that the dogs were being taken to PAWS and the phone number of the facility.

The owner, later identified as Sean Robert Wagner, contacted PAWS by phone at 5:45 p.m. that afternoon. Officer Shoemake spoke with him and informed him that he could pick up his dogs when the shelter opened at 11 a.m. the next morning, at which point Wagner became angry, used profanity and hung up the phone.

Approximately 30 minutes later, Wagner arrived at PAWS with three young children, who were later determined to be his. According to the police report, he attempted to shake the facility’s front doors open, and when he could not gain access went around the back of the building where there is no public entry, presumably to gain access there. The PAWS employees in the building became scared, so Shoemake exited the building to confront him and try to get him to leave.

Wagner became immediately aggressive, used profanity and the n-word, and told her to “go back to Africa.” Along with his children, he walked back toward the front of the building, “yelling loudly and showing his middle finger to PAWS employees” inside. He then resumed banging on windows and loudly screaming, at which point Shoemake called for police backup.

Back at the front of the building, Wagner approached Shoemake within arm’s length, “clenching his fists and showing his teeth while spewing profanity and racial epithets,” threatening that “we are going to get you and we will fix this” and to kick Shoemake’s “ass.”

Perceiving Wagner’s ongoing, escalating comments as threats, Shoemake drew her taser, pointed it at his chest and asked him to back up. He stopped approaching her just as several patrol cars arrived at the scene.

Wagner was booked into jail and his three children turned over to their grandmother. Booking photos revealed numerous Nazi and racist tattoos on Wagner’s chest and torso.

A background check revealed no prior criminal history for Wagner, and prosecutors had no objection to him being released on personal recognizance provided he has “no contact with his alleged victim or PAWS, no possession of dangerous weapons or firearms, and no new criminal law violations.”

Wagner’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 18 in Snohomish County Superior Court.

A 13-year veteran of the Edmond Police Department as an animal control officer, Tabatha Shoemake was recently promoted to the new position of community engagement officer.

— By Larry Vogel

  1. I’ve had a few encounters with Officer Shoemake over the years. She was always courteous and professional in resolving issues.
    Just the fact that she exited the building to confront and deescalate the situation proves my point. She did her job and she did it well. Officer Shoemake is a tremendous asset for Edmonds and deserves our respect and gratitude.

    1. What an impressive human being. This article about her willingness to defend herself and others from a racist person (I am concerned about his young children, who also witnessed this hate crime) was great to read, as was the link of another terrific article about her recent promotions. The comments after the previous linked article, and her responses to some of them, were wonderful.

      1. I so appreciate the reporting done by Teresa Whipple’s publications for the Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, and Edmonds communities. These types of human interest stories, as well as announcements of zoom events, like a tree canopy webinar and an ESD information panel recently, help interested parties stay engaged.

      2. Tabatha is an excellent dedicated officer who takes her job and dedication to citizens seriously. Edmonds is very fortunate to have her.

  2. Thank you Bob Sears, so often we do not thank the people who are protecting our communities and their residents.

  3. Did anyone contact CPS??
    Just because there are no priors does not mean he is clean.
    Staying at a motel with 3 kids and puppies in the truck??
    Obviously this man has MANY issues.
    Children should be protected.

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