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Suspect charged in connection to fire set at Seattle car shop where protesters threatened owners: 'Let him go, or we're gonna kill you guys'


AK-47, loaded magazines reportedly found stashed in a nearby bush

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Authorities have charged a man they say broke into Car Tender — a shop near Seattle's infamous autonomous zone now known as CHOP (or Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) — and started a fire, KIRO-TV reported.

Richard Hanks faces multiple charges, including second-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, and first-degree malicious mischief, the station said, adding that he's in jail on $75,000 bail.

John McDermott and his son Mason who run the shop detained a man they say broke a window and set fire to their front counter Sunday night — but they were forced to release the culprit to protesters who demanded they let him go. John McDermott called 911 for help 19 times, but he and his son said police never showed up.

Protesters still broke down a fence and stalked into Car Tender's parking lot, eventually surrounding John McDermott.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Prosecutors said in the days after that incident, Hanks allegedly was involved in two other break-ins at car dealerships, KIRO reported.

VIDEO: Suspect in auto shop break-in faces multiple charges

'Let him go, or we're gonna kill you guys'

According to Jason Rantz of KTTH-AM, up to 200 protesters — several armed — formed outside Car Tender demanding that the McDermotts release the man they were detaining.

Citing the police report, KTTH noted that "several of them yell that they will burn or destroy the business" if the suspect isn't handed over to them.

"They were shouting at us from outside the gate of my dad's shop, saying that they were going to kill us and to let him go and, you know, obscenities," Mason McDermott said on Rantz's radio show. "They said, 'Let him go, or we're gonna kill you guys. You need to let him go.' And we were just holding him so the police could get there ... so this guy could be accountable for trying to burn our family business to the ground and stealing."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

CHOP protesters "physically knocked down the chainlink fence that surrounds the business and rushed the yard," KTTH said, citing the police report. "To appease the protesters, the suspect was released to them."

But KIRO's report said the suspect was released before the fence was broken down.

Protesters allegedly rough up suspect

KTTH added, citing the police report, that the crowd "forcibly detained the suspect, forcibly [searching] both his backpack and his person and did not allow him to leave."

The crowd then returned property belonging to the owner found on the suspect, the station said, adding that the police report stated that "eventually a member of the crowd assaulted the suspect, repeatedly punching him in the face." The suspect escaped when a brawl broke out, the station added.

But Hanks was arrested King County sheriff's deputies during a suspected car burglary the same day he allegedly broke into Car Tender, KTTH reported, adding that a deputy recognized Hanks from social media video showing the Car Tender crime.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

AK-47, loaded magazines reportedly found stashed in bush

The radio station added that the owner of Iconic Global, a private security firm volunteering to help protect Car Tender, said an AK-47 and loaded magazines were found stashed in a nearby bush along with fireworks and "explosive hardware."

The security firm's owner told Rantz he got a tip that Hanks was working with CHOP protesters and that weapons had been stashed nearby, KTTH reported, adding that Ironic Global turned over the stash to police.

KTTH said it hasn't been confirmed if the weapons belong to Hanks, nor is there any mention of a weapons' stash in the police report or charging documents. In addition, the King County Prosecutor's Office has no evidence that Hanks was involved in CHOP protests.

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