EVERETT — A self-described “incel” — an involuntarily celibate person — has been charged with three felonies in connection with threats to shoot and bomb an Everett girls basketball game last month.
Michael Harsh has a history of similar threats, including at a local blood donation center and a state ferry.
On Feb. 17, the day after his 43rd birthday, Harsh arrived at the Evergreen Middle School gym on his bike, according to new charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court. It was the third quarter of the seventh-grade girls basketball game against Voyager Middle School.
The Everett man reportedly walked to the main entrance, where a few kids were standing. They backed away when they saw what appeared to be a black semiautomatic handgun in his hand, according to court papers.
A few minutes later, Harsh entered the gym wearing a backpack. He walked to the middle of the gym, yelling and holding the gun, according to the charges. Evergreen’s vice principal followed Harsh onto the court, putting himself between the suspect and the other people in the gym.
The 43-year-old man then reportedly threw off his backpack and started walking toward a bench full of children. Parents and school staff ran to tackle him, but he fended them off. He tried to punch anyone who got too close, according to court documents. All the while, he screamed obscenities, insults and what the charges describe as “Christian rhetoric.”
The vice principal and others were finally able to tackle the suspect. In the struggle, the gun was knocked loose and taken to the gym office. As they held him down, Harsh said he was going to kill them, according to prosecutors. And he looked directly at the vice principal and reportedly said he would kill the administrator.
Harsh also claimed he had a bomb, according to court papers. He said he had a dead man’s switch to detonate the bomb, screaming multiple times he’d kill the people in the gym.
When police arrived, they found people scrambling out of the gym.
“It was chaos as the gymnasium dispersed,” deputy prosecutor Martha Saracino wrote in the charging papers.
After police took over from the civilians holding Harsh down, the suspect said he wanted police to kill him, according to court documents. He also reportedly asked an officer to let him kill another one of the officers on scene. He also asked a female officer if a woman would touch a man like him.
“That’s what this is about,” Harsh reportedly said.
While being taken to the Snohomish County Jail, the Everett man called himself an “incel,” which is slang for an involuntarily celibate person, usually a man, harboring extreme resentment, according to the charges. He reported he hadn’t had sexual contact in 20 years.
At the jail, a nurse asked his name and Harsh reportedly responded, “If no one will touch you, you’re not worthy of a name.”
Police later determined the gun was an air pistol, not a real firearm. There was also no bomb or ignition device on him. But the vice principal told investigators he didn’t know that. He was in fear for his life while confronting the suspect.
Harsh also told the jail nurse he went to the school thinking about a past incident. He reportedly called it “stupid.”
A week after the incident, a judge approved a one-year extreme-risk protection order against Harsh, according to court records. This bars him from accessing guns because of danger to the community.
At the school, counselors were made available for students processing what happened, Everett Public Schools spokesperson Kathy Reeves said in an email. There was also an Everett police officer on scene at home games after the incident.
Prosecutors charged Harsh with two counts of felony harassment, one count of threats to bomb and one count of unlawful display of a weapon, a misdemeanor.
In 2008, Harsh was sentenced to less than two months in jail for threatening to kill employees at an Evergreen Way blood donation site for not letting him give plasma, according to court records. He reported he had three handguns and threatened someone with a Taser. He also threatened to kill police officers. That appears to be his only prior felony conviction.
Four years later, the man was accused of making a bomb threat on a ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo, according to a news report at the time.
The suspect was in the Snohomish County Jail this week in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; email@example.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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