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.

More in News

Histories converge at evolving skatepark

The Burton Adventure Recreation Center site and the surrounding area have served many over the years

Land Trust debuts new all-access trail

The flat, easily-accessible trail connects to the island’s existing Shinglemill trail.

With ‘no alternative,’ beloved dock pushed further to brink

The ailing dock will be closed to the public early next month.

Island elder leads charge for more volunteers at school

“You’re supposed to give and contribute to your community until the day you’re in a box.”

‘ArtBlitz’ turns school into a creative hub

Day-long workshops ranged from circus arts to printmaking, stage combat, cooking, singing and dance.

Runoff pollutants, pet waste, impact island streams

Storm runoff can lead to contaminants washing into streams, the ocean and aquifers.

World AIDS Day events scheduled on island

Organizer Peter Serko encourages the community to participate in a “commemoration” of World AIDS Day.

Vashon’s Japan Festivals

The events have helped foster an awareness and appreciation of Japanese Americans on the island.

Police K-9 named after island soldier killed in Afghanistan

Police dogs go to great lengths to support and protect their team. So did Robert Bennedsen.

Most Read