GRANITE FALLS, Wash. - By afternoon, many in Granite Falls had heard about Mayor Haroon Saleem’s night in jail.
“I’m sure the whole town knows about it by now,” said business owner Adam Grant.
“It just broke my heart, it really did,” said Vervia Gabriel.
Gabriel works for Mountain Loop Express, a local online newspaper. Monday night, she received a big tip about the small town’s mayor.
“He was yelling at a woman and was saying some bad things like he was going to kill their family,” said Gabriel.
Mayor Saleem stood before a judge Tuesday to face allegations that he made threats toward a family member.
“My dad was just being protective,” said Saleem’s daughter, Nida.
Nida had arrived at Sea-Tac Airport Monday night after a trip with relatives that did not go well. In baggage claim, the situation escalated into a shouting match.
“It’s between Saleem’s sister, his niece and him,” said Saleem’s wife.
Police stepped in and arrested Saleem for investigation of domestic violence harassment. Saleem’s family said he is innocent, and they will prove it.
“I thought it was kind of funny in a sense after what just happened with his restaurant, you’d think he’d be a little better behaved,” said Grant.
Just across the street from Grant’s business on East Stanley Street, sits the cafe Mayo Saleem used to own before the landlord evicted him over a reported financial dispute. Residents also remember the very public clash between the mayor and the former police chief, which eventually led to a new police chief taking over.
“We don’t like this negative publicity about our town,” said Gabriel.
“If I was in the public eye, I would think a little harder before I make actions. Everybody’s watching,” said Grant.
In court Tuesday, the judge released the mayor on his own recognizance; a decision on charges is still pending. The mayor is due back in court on Thursday.