When an elderly north Seattle couple decided recently to fly a "Thin Blue Line" flag outside the home they've lived in for more than 30 years, they knew their decision to support police wouldn't be popular, KIRO-TV reported.
They were right.
And what started as angry comments, demands that they take down the flag, and graffiti on the street in front of their residence appears to have escalated into a drive-by shooting last week, the station said.
What are the details?
"About twice a week someone was coming by and [saying] derogatory remarks, saying take it down," the man told KIRO. "I didn't argue with anybody."
"Black Lives Matter" and the letters "ACAB" — which stands for "all cops are bastards" — also were painted on the street in front of the home, the station said.
The couple — who didn't want to identify themselves or show their faces on camera for fear of retaliation — filed a police report for harassment, KIRO said.
Then last Friday surveillance video caught someone driving a dark SUV by the home, firing nine shots, and speeding away, the station said. Six shots hit the home and a vehicle, KIRO reported, adding that at least one bullet pierced multiple walls of the home.
"This didn't really happen did it?" the man asked the station in disbelief.
"I'm fearful because I don't know who it would be that would get that angry," the woman told KIRO.
The homeowners replaced a large flag with a similar-looking smaller flag, hoping that would deescalate the situation — but after the shooting, the station said police officers told them it wasn't safe to keep it hanging.
"The police said, 'As much as we appreciate your support, we tell our families don't fly 'em,'" the woman told KIRO.
'Everybody has an opinion ... but you don't shoot me for it'
In the aftermath, the couple is troubled that they were targeted with such violence simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.
"I feel like people are trying to take over someone else's opinion and controlling them, and I had no idea that this was happening," the woman noted to the station, adding "everybody has an opinion, and we're entitled to it — but you don't shoot me for it."
(H/T: The Police Tribune)