Arrest made after swastika painted on vehicle in Edmonds

EDMONDS — An Edmonds man is under investigation for malicious mischief after a swastika was painted on a vehicle Sunday while it was parked outside a local church.

The man, 21, was arrested Wednesday for the misdemeanor after being interviewed by detectives, Edmonds police Sgt. Josh McClure said.

Investigators are exploring whether there are links to similar vandalism that occurred in April in the Westgate and Esperance neighborhoods and late last month at the Madrona K-8 School, he added.

The man was spotted Sunday at Westgate Chapel by an Edmonds police sergeant who was working a security job at the church. The officer had met him before. He also spotted what appeared to be spray paint on the man’s fingers, McClure said.

The encounter happened before one of the church members reported the swastika. The suspect was found nearby and interviewed. Evidence was collected from the man’s vehicle but there was no probable cause to make an arrest, McClure said.

That was developed after the interview with detectives and in consultation with Snohomish County deputy prosecutors.

“I continue to share the concern of our community that we have had another incident of this nature,” Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said in a prepared statement. “It is important to know that Edmonds PD will continue to investigate each instance and make an arrest where appropriate. The symbol used in this crime does nothing but signify hate.”

The man was jailed for third-degree malicious mischief, a routine charge in vandalism cases. Defacing property can rise to felony malicious harassment if it targets people because of the suspect’s “perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap.”

In this case, police and prosecutors weighed what the man said in the interview as well as state law before deciding on grounds for the arrest, McClure said.

The vandalism in Edmonds has been met with concern and sadness. In the April incidents, some of the swastikas were painted backward. The vandalism at the school in late June, meanwhile, included racial slurs, obscenities and political insults.

The man arrested Wednesday was not a student or employee at the school, McClure said. The investigation continues and anyone with information is urged to contact the police tip line at 425-771-0212 or epdtips.edmondswa.gov

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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