OLYMPIA, Washington—Armed clashes broke out on the streets of Olympia, Washington on Saturday as multiple protest groups converged on the city, pitting pro-Trump demonstrators against counter-protesters and leaving at least one person shot.
Washington State Patrol confirmed that one person was in custody after the shooting, according to the Seattle Times, though no details were immediately available on the condition of the victim.
The shooting came after members of a pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally were joined by the Proud Boys and members of another group protesting COVID-19 restrictions as they faced off against counter-protesters. The groups spent hours taunting each other and engaging in scuffles, with many from both sides armed and decked out in body armor, before Olympia police declared a riot over “assaultive behavior.”
As pro-Trump demonstrators and some of the Proud Boys retreated to their vehicles, they were confronted by a large group of counter-protesters, some of whom sprayed mace. That is when a fleeing protester fired a gun towards the crowd, hitting a counter-protester in the abdomen. The counter-protester was transported to a hospital but no further details were immediately available.
A spent casing was later found at the scene by police, along with what appeared to be an improvised explosive device.
As The Olympian noted, the police presence was heavy on Saturday, after similar events were held last weekend that ended in violence. “Neighbors are exhausted, and the city has said its resources are being stretched thin,” the paper reported.
Tensions appeared ready to boil over all day Saturday, with numerous brawls breaking out between opposing groups. Trump supporters and Proud Boys threw IEDs, shot paintball guns, and threw smoke grenades at counter-protesters. As counter-protesters attempted to approach the capitol grounds, a Trump supporter refusing to move was assaulted by counter-protesters and was later treated by Washington State Patrol.
Even as the pro-Trump demonstrations kicked off earlier in the day, some demonstrators made clear they were expecting violence. As counter-protesters first gathered at a park near the capitol, a man dressed in camo, wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying what appeared to be a high-capacity weapon, watched them and radioed about where they were gathered.
It was not immediately clear who was on the other end of his radio.
At another point, a member of one of the pro-Trump rallies who identified himself only as Tom told the crowd, “Makes me feel good seeing all these patriots here ready to fight for our nation.”
“Hopefully it doesn't come to it....well, I don't know, hopefully it does come to it,” he said.