By Eric Stevick and Amy Daybert Herald Writers
SEATTLE — Granite Falls Mayor Haroon Saleem was released from the King County jail Tuesday after being arrested for allegedly threatening to kill his niece and others while at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, officials said.
Port of Seattle police were called to a dispute near the airport’s baggage claim area shortly before 8:15 p.m. Monday, port spokesman Perry Cooper said.
“There was shouting and threats were made,” Cooper said.
Saleem was at the airport to pick up his daughter, 13, when an argument among relatives erupted, according to court papers. His daughter had been on vacation in California where she had quarreled with relatives. The dispute lingered and his daughter sat apart from her relatives on the flight to Seattle.
The niece said Saleem confronted her at the airport and made threats. Police were called to the baggage area by witnesses who reported a commotion.
Saleem was taken into custody without incident and was cooperative during the jail booking process. He volunteered that he is mayor of Granite Falls and said he respects police after having worked with them closely in his community.
He also denied that he threatened anyone, court papers said.
Saleem was booked into the King County Jail shortly before midnight for investigation of felony domestic violence harassment.
Because of the nature of the alleged incident, an arrest was mandatory under state law, Cooper said.
Saleem could not be reached for comment after his Tuesday afternoon bail hearing.
A judge released him on his personal recognizance pending a charging decision, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
City clerk Darla Reese said Tuesday that the mayor’s arrest wasn’t a city-related issue and she didn’t have a comment. Councilmen Matt Hartman and Joshua Golston said they knew little about the arrest and also did not want to comment.
Granite Falls Police chief Dennis Taylor said as far as he knew, Saleem has no previous issues pertaining to domestic violence. Taylor received a call before 10 p.m. Monday that Saleem was going to jail.
“He hasn’t been charged with anything yet,” Taylor said. “I really don’t know anything about the incident.”
Saleem, a Muslim native of Pakistan, was elected Granite Falls mayor in 2009 with 61 percent of the vote. In April he was evicted from his restaurant, the Timberline Café, for failing to pay rent for more than a year. The restaurant was shut down and keys were returned to landlord.