Federal authorities in Seattle have filed their first criminal case stemming from violence during recent protests.
A Seattle police sergeant said he found a homemade firearm – called a “slam fire” gun – on Devinare Parker after Parker threw a beer can at the officer’s head on May 31, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Seattle late Tuesday afternoon.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) determined "that the improvised firearm functioned as a firearm,” that is capable of firing shotgun shells, according to the complaint.
Parker is charged with Unlawful Possession of a Destructive Device.
U.S Attorney Brian T. Moran said his office is also working with federal agents and local police to investigate whether criminal organizations carried out and planned some of the violence in downtown Seattle during the protests.
“The FBI has put out a call for video. We’re analyzing lots of video,” Moran said.
“We’re looking at federal offenses. Obviously, arson would be one. Certain actors coming in from out of state could invoke federal jurisdictions across state lines,” he said.
Anti-fascist, or antifa, groups have already been accused of some of the destruction.
But Moran suspects that both left-wing and right-wing extremist groups were part of the problem.
“Absolutely, a lot of it hinges on intelligence that I can’t share,” Moran said of the various groups that are under investigation.
Moran also said the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is keeping an eye on the March 3 death of Manuel Ellis in Tacoma while in police custody.
“I’m extremely mindful of Tacoma and Mr. Ellis. I’ve been in touch with the county prosecutor and the attorney general’s office. I’m well aware of what the nature of those allegations are,” Moran said.
Federal investigators can bring additional resources to the table, and cases prosecuted in federal courts often have stiffer sentences that those handled in state or city courts.