Demonstrators return to immigration jail after attack, death

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Demonstrators returned to an immigration jail in Washington state a day after an armed man threw incendiary devices at the detention center and later died.

Willem Van Spronsen, 69, was found dead Saturday after four police officers arrived and opened fire.

Demonstrators returned Sunday to the privately run Tacoma Northwest Detention Center, KOMO-TV reported.

The demonstrators were protesting the facility and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement roundups that were supposed to begin Sunday. There were about 100 people gathered outside the center, the television station reported.

The facility holds migrants pending deportation proceedings.

The detention center has also held immigration-seeking parents separated from their children under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, an effort meant to deter illegal immigration.

The center’s operator, GEO Group, said in a statement it was aware of a “community gathering” Sunday. “We respect every individua

l’s right to use their voice and express their opinions,” the center said.

Bullet holes riddled the scene Sunday, The News Tribune reported. Police searched Van Spronsen’s Vashon Island home, the Tacoma newspaper reported.

Van Spronsen’s friend, Deb Bartley, told The Seattle Times she thinks he wanted to provoke a fatal conflict. She described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist.

“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs. I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”

Van Spronsen was accused of assaulting a police officer during a protest outside the detention center in 2018, The News Tribune reported.