Police kill islander at Tacoma detention center

Large police presence assists on island with search warrant

Tacoma police shot and killed Vashon resident Willem Van Spronsen in Tacoma early Saturday morning after he was throwing incendiary devices at the immigration detention center there, according to several news accounts.

A large police presence arrived on the island Saturday afternoon to help Tacoma police with a search warrant regarding the incident, King County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Ryan Abbott said. Swat teams from King County and Tacoma police came, along with members of the King County bomb squad and hostage negotiating teams. Guardian One, the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, was also expected.

Multiple news accounts say that Van Spronsen, 69, was armed with a rifle and was throwing the incendiary devices at buildings and cars. One car was reportedly fully engulfed in flames. He had also tried to ignite a propane tank, but was unsuccessful.

The account in the Tacoma News Tribune said Van Spronsen was wearing a satchel and gear that contained explosives. He reportedly died at the scene.

As of Saturday evening, law enforcement was still at Van Spronsen’s west side residence, and an officer was asking at least some drivers to turn around.

The New York Times, which also carried an account of the incident, reported that Tacoma police are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security. The Seattle Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also involved.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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