Willem Van Spronsen, the man who was armed with a rifle and threw incendiary devices at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma Saturday, had a previous arrest history, police said.
Court records show Spronsen lunged at an officer’s neck during a protest at the same detention center last year.
Flashing lights and police cars surrounded a Vashon Island home listed to 69-year-old Willem Van Spronsen — the man Tacoma Police said they shot and killed after an attack at the Northwest Detention Center early Saturday morning.
The investigation postponed a solidarity event for detained immigrants — but some activists showed up anyway.Man killed by police at NW Detention Center had previous arrest for assaulting officer (KOMO News)
“We were really saddened that somebody died,” said activist Maru Mora Villalpando with La Resistencia. “I think what is clear is that somebody died right outside the detention center. The detention center is a dangerous place.”
Detectives looked for clues that could help them understand why police say the 69-year-old threw Molotov-cocktails at the detention center and nearby cars while armed with a rifle.
“He was throwing these items at the building in an effort to set it on fire. It didn’t work, it’s a concrete building,” said Officer Loretta Cool with the Tacoma Police Department.
But activists later said Spronsen was a protestor trying to set the deportation buses on fire – which sit across the street from the detention center—when he was shot and killed.
It’s not the first time the protester has had a confrontation with police.
KOMO News was there when Spronsen was in court last year after he was arrested for assaulting a police officer during a chaotic protest at the Northwest Detention Center.