Man accused of threatening to kill Rep. Pramila Jayapal charged

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FILE – Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., speaks during an interview Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Seattle. Brett Forsell, a 49-year-old Seattle man arrested earlier this month on suspicion of committing a hate crime against U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal and threatening to kill her, has been charged with criminal harassment, Wednesday, July 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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A 49-year-old Seattle man arrested earlier this month on suspicion of committing a hate crime against U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal and threatening to kill her has been charged with stalking.

The King County District Attorney’s Office said Brett Forsell was charged on Wednesday after additional evidence was collected by police investigators.

Forsell was arrested July 9 after shouting obscenities and threats outside Jayapal’s Seattle home late at night and jailed. He was released when prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence for a hate crime charge, although authorities said the investigation would continue.

Police then forwarded the harassment case for review, prosecutors said.

In 2016, Jayapal became the first Native American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. The Democrat leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

As part of the stalking charge, prosecutors note that Forsell was armed with a deadly weapon and that Jayapal was harassed because of her elected office.

Seattle police arrested Forsell outside Jayapal’s home in the Arbor Heights neighborhood at 11:25 p.m. on July 9 after she called 911 and reported an unknown person or persons near her home using a obscene language and mentioning his name, according to probable cause documents. She told a dispatcher that her husband believed someone may have fired a pellet gun, the statement said.

Officers found Forsell standing in the street with his hands up and a handgun to his waist, according to the probable cause statement.

Forsell told police he had walked past Jayapal’s house several times shouting obscenities since late June and that on July 9 he drove by, stopped, got out of the car and directed profanities. against Jayapal, according to the statement of probable cause.

He left after meeting her husband, then returned soon after, knowing they were home, and was seen by neighbors and Jayapal’s husband appearing to approach the house yelling at Jayapal, according to documents. A neighbor told police she heard a man threatening to kill Jayapal and believed the statements were made by the man arrested that night.

Police learned the man emailed Jayapal’s public account in January saying he didn’t like him, documents show.

A temporary extreme risk protection order requiring Forsell to surrender his firearms and concealed pistol license, citing concerns about escalating behavior toward Jayapal and increasing mental health issues, remains in place.

Prosecutors said a judge approved $500,000 bond. It does not appear Forsell was jailed Wednesday night. The Associated Press could not locate Forsell for comment and it was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Jayapal said in a statement that the King County prosecutor’s office charging Forsell with stalking demonstrates the justice system is doing its job.

“I am grateful to the King County District Attorney’s Office for holding this man accountable for his dangerous actions, to the victim’s attorney for his assistance throughout the process, and to the Seattle Police Department, the United States Capitol Police and the Sergeant-at-Arms for continuing to ensure the safety of my family, me and my staff,” Jayapal said.

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