A 49-year-old Seattle man was charged with felony stalking after being arrested earlier this month on suspicion of committing a hate crime against U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal and threatening to kill her.
According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Brett Forsell was charged on Wednesday after police investigators gathered additional evidence.
Forsell was arrested and booked into jail on July 9 after yelling obscenities and threats outside Jayapal’s Seattle home late at night. He was released after prosecutors determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a hate crime, though authorities stated that the investigation would continue.
Prosecutors said that police later forwarded the stalking case to them for review.
Jayapal was the first Indian American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2016. The Democrat heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Prosecutors allege that Forsell was armed with a deadly weapon and that Jayapal was stalked in connection with her elected position as part of the felony stalking charge.
According to probable cause documents, Forsell was arrested outside Jayapal’s house in the Arbor Heights neighborhood on July 9 at 11:25 p.m. after she called 911 and reported an unknown person or people near her home using obscene language and mentioning her name. According to the statement, she told a dispatcher that her husband thought someone had fired a pellet gun.
According to the probable cause statement, officers discovered Forsell standing in the street with his hands in the air and a handgun holstered around his waist.
According to the probable cause statement, Forsell told police that he had been driving by Jayapal’s house yelling obscenities since late June and that on July 9 he drove by, stopped, got out of the car, and directed profanities at Jayapal.
He left after meeting her husband and returned a short time later, knowing they were home, and was seen by neighbors and Jayapal’s husband approaching the house while yelling at Jayapal, according to documents. A neighbor reported hearing a man threaten to kill Jayapal and believing the statements were made by the man arrested that night.
According to documents, the man sent an email to Jayapal’s public account in January saying he didn’t like her.
A temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order requiring Forsell to surrender his firearms and concealed pistol license remains in effect, citing concerns about escalating behavior toward Jayapal and increasing mental health issues.
Prosecutors said a judge granted bail in the amount of $500,000. As of Wednesday evening, it did not appear that Forsell had been booked into jail. The Associated Press could not reach Forsell for comment, and it was unclear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
In a statement, Jayapal said that the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office charging Forsell with felony stalking shows that the justice system is working.
“I am grateful to the King County Prosecutor’s Office for holding this man accountable for his dangerous actions, to the victim’s advocate for her assistance throughout the process, and to the Seattle Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police, and the House Sergeant at Arms for continuing to keep my family, me, and my staff safe,” Jayapal said.