Far-right tattoo artist surrenders in racist Lynnwood attack

Jason DeSimas, of Tacoma, turned himself in after being charged with hate crimes. He’s in federal custody.

Jason DeSimas (Federal Way Mirror)

Jason DeSimas (Federal Way Mirror)

LYNNWOOD — A fourth white supremacist indicted in a racist attack at a Lynnwood bar surrendered this week to federal authorities.

Jason “Gravy” DeSimas, 46, a Tacoma tattoo artist, must remain behind bars pending trial, U.S. District Court Judge Paula McCandlis ruled Monday.

Two people injured in the 2018 beating identified a man with a devil tattoo as one of the assailants who surrounded a Black DJ and beat him on a dance floor at the Rec Room Bar and Grill, 14920 Highway 99.

“Law enforcement reports and booking photos of DeSimas for prior offenses note that he has a tattoo of a devil’s face on the front of his neck,” wrote federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Security footage showed DeSimas “actively assaulting the victims by striking downward with his arms, over and over” on Dec. 8, 2018, according to a motion to detain the defendant. The injured people reported a man with a devil tattoo used the N-word “before, during and after the assault.”

Last week, after two years in legal limbo, federal prosecutors announced a grand jury had indicted DeSimas and three other men from the Northwest: Daniel Dorson, 25, of Oregon; Randy Smith, 40, of Oregon; and Jason Stanley, 44, of Idaho.

All four were in custody this week.

According to investigators, they were passing through Lynnwood, as part of a larger group of extremists, because it was a kind of white supremacist holiday marking the death of Robert Jay Mathews, of the domestic terrorist group The Order. Mathews was killed Dec. 8, 1984, in a shootout with dozens of federal agents at a cabin on Whidbey Island.

The federal public defender for DeSimas submitted a 14-page motion Wednesday seeking to revoke the detention order, along with three letters from three supporters: his teenage child; a friend named “Tiffany” whose last name was redacted; and a man who identified himself only as “Mike” who had “worked with jason for 3 years now and gotten to know him on a personal level.” (The subject line read: “Jason desimess.”)

Tacoma activists have exposed DeSimas’ unabashed support for Hammerskin Nation, a far-right group labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the country’s “oldest, most violent skinhead groups.”

A one-star Yelp review for DeSimas’ tattoo parlor, TacTown Tattoo, shows him standing in front of posters of the crossed hammers that make up a Hammerskin logo, while DeSimas and others wear shirts depicting the Wolfsangel, a runic symbol appropriated by the Nazi SS. The symbol has also been adopted by neo-Nazis of the 21st century.

Other images saved and reposted by activists showed DeSimas and two people identified as his coworkers wearing “Crew 38” shirts — a “support group” for the Hammerskins — with the number 88 in big block letters, a far-right code for the eighth letter of the alphabet twice: H.H., for “Heil Hitler,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

His public defender, Sara Brin, argued in her motion that DeSimas has “strong ties to the community through the tattooing industry and his commitment to this type of work for 17 years here in Washington.”

Brin argued that DeSimas, who has lung damage and other health issues, could die if he contracts COVID-19 at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, where dozens of inmates have tested positive this month.

His attorney also argued DeSimas had known about this investigation for two years but did not flee and stayed out of trouble with the law.

Over the preceding two decades, he was convicted of burglary, felony assault, heroin possession, identity theft, forgery and auto theft.

“Jason is not a bad man,” Tiffany wrote. “maybe made some bad mistakes in life but who hasnt?”

The defense motion hasn’t gone in front of a judge yet.

Six other people carrying white supremacist emblems were detained north of Lynnwood in 2018. No other hate crime charges had been filed as of this week.

All four indicted men are charged with three counts of hate crimes, as well as lying to the FBI.

DeSimas, for example, claimed nobody in his group used the N-word, according to federal prosecutors. Court papers say DeSimas did admit to being a member of Crew 38.

A U.S. District Court judge ordered Dorson to be transferred out of Oregon, where he was being held, for court hearings in Seattle.

Smith was also behind bars in Oregon this week.

Stanley remained at an Idaho state prison.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Former president Donald Trump is seen with a bloody ear as he is assisted off the stage during a campaign rally in Butler, Pa., on Saturday. MUST CREDIT: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Pops, screams and then blood: On the scene at the Trump rally shooting

Isaac Arnsdorf, Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post BUTLER, Pa. - The… Continue reading

Biden, Democrats, Republicans denounce shooting at Trump rally

Reaction pours in from government leaders

A bloodied Donald Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents at a campaign rally in Butler, Pa, on Saturday, July, 13, 2024. The former president was rushed off stage at rally after sounds like shots; the former president was escorted into his motorcade at his rally in Butler, Pa., a rural town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Trump rally shooting investigated as assassination attempt

President Joe Biden gave a brief televised statement, condemning the violence as “sick.”

Firefighters and EMTs with Sky Valley Fire tour Eagle Falls while on an observational trip on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, near Index, Washington. (Jordan Hansen / The Herald)
Beautiful but deadly: Drownings common at Eagle Falls, other local waters

Locals and firefighters are sounding the alarm as Eagle Falls and the Granite Falls Fish Ladder have claimed five lives this year.

A view of the south eastern area of the Lake Stevens that includes lakeshore and UGA that is a part of the city's annexation area on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens fight to take over sewer district could end soon

The city and sewer district have been locked in a yearslong dispute. A judge could put an end to the stalemate this month.

Lynnwood appoints new council member after abrupt resignation

Derica Escamilla will take the seat vacated by Shirley Sutton in May, who claimed the city had a “total lack of leadership.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.