Man shot at UW no racist, friends insist, despite shooter’s claim
Police say the man who fired the gun Friday night at the University of Washington claimed he had been assaulted by the man he shot, and that he believed he was a white supremacist. Friends of the critically injured man, say he is no racist.
The man who surrendered to police in connection with the University of Washington shooting Friday night was released after telling investigators he fired in self-defense during a campus protest, according to two law-enforcement officials briefed on the case.
No details about any confrontation between him and the critically wounded man were available Saturday. But one of the law-enforcement officials said the man who fired the gun claimed he had been assaulted before shooting the other man, whom he believed to be some type of white supremacist.
The condition of the wounded 34-year-old man improved from critical to serious Sunday, according to Susan Gregg at Harborview Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. Gregg said the man remained in the Intensive Care Unit, but was breathing on his own. His name was not released.
The shooting, which occurred during a protest of a Friday-night speech at Kane Hall by Breitbart News Network editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, remains under investigation.
Two people who said they are friends with the wounded man disputed the characterization of him as a supremacist. One said his friend supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, and both said he sports an anti-hate tattoo that consists of a black swastika surrounded by a red circle with a slash through it.
Max Vohra of Seattle, who has known the man for seven years, said his friend got the tattoo more than a decade ago “when he was living in California, and had to deal with a lot of racists in the punk scene.” The idea for the tattoo, Vohra said, came from a NOFX song called “The Brews,” which references “anti-swastika tattoos.”
Daniel Herrera, who has worked and socialized with the man for three years, said he’s never seen his friend be aggressive.
“He has always been of the mind to be compassionate, empathetic and to educate. That’s his goal,” Herrera said.
UW police offered few details Saturday, saying in a news release that no suspects were being sought, and that the man who said he fired the gun was released pending investigation.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans defended the university’s handling of the event, saying that 80 Seattle police officers were brought in to supplement the 25 officers UW assigned to the event.
The officers had planned and practiced for the protests, and interrupted fights when they broke out, Arkans said.
“It was tense, but things were really working,’’ he said.
The university has no plans to increase security as a result of the shooting, and views the incident as “unfortunate and isolated,” according to UW police Maj. Steve Rittereiser.