Prosecutors in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington Wednesday charged a 49-year-old Seattle man with felony stalking after he was arrested earlier this month for yelling threats and obscenities outside the home of Democratic U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal.
Media reports citing court documents say the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office requested $500,000 bail, claiming the defendant, Brett Forsell, is "likely to commit a violent offense if free in the community.”
Forsell was initially arrested outside Jaypal’s home on July 9. He was released after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for a hate crime charge, though authorities noted the investigation would continue.
Jayapal and her husband heard yelling coming from outside their home in the city of Seattle late at night, according to court documents. Jayapal's husband, Steve Williamson, went out on the front porch to investigate and the couple heard male voices yelling expletives and saying, "Go back to India."
Jayapal was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
As part of the felony stalking charge, prosecutors note Forsell was armed with a deadly weapon and that Jayapal was stalked in connection with her elected position. In a statement to investigators, Forsell admitted he drove by Jayapal’s house yelling obscenities several times since late June and on July 9 stopped, got out of the car, and directed profanities at her.
In a statement posted to her Twitter account, Jayapal said the charges indicated “the justice system is doing its work,” and expressed her gratitude to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for holding Forsell “accountable for his dangerous actions.”
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.