- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2019

Newly released video captures the moment when police confronted the man who attacked an ICE facility last month with a gun and incendiary devices, including the shots from local police that killed the attacker — and perhaps prevented a larger loss of life.

The footage was taken by employees of GEO Group, the private contractor that runs the Tacoma, Washington, detention facility for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was attacked on July 13 by Willem Van Spronsen.

Van Spronsen timed the attack to the early hours of the morning, managing to ignite one car — which is on fire at the start of the video, then explodes into an even bigger conflagration about 23 seconds in. At 38 seconds the video captures voices shouting what sounds like commands, then four seconds later gunfire erupts, momentarily drowning out the shrill fire alarm.

Authorities have speculated that Van Spronsen was trying to ignite a propane tank on the property, perhaps to start a larger explosion that could have endangered the 1,300 ICE detainees, some 100 GEO Group employees and other ICE employees there at the time.

The video was captured by GEO Group employees whose shifts had ended. They were walking out of the building when they spotted Van Spronsen with a rifle and flares, which he was apparently using as fire starters.

The employees grabbed walkie-talkies and a video camera, and were able to get a notification to police, who responded.

Van Spronsen’s attack has been labeled domestic terrorism. He produced a manifesto laying out his justification for violence against ICE, using some of the same language of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, such as the phrase “concentration camps” to describe holding facilities.

But GEO Group, which ran the facility Van Spronsen attacked, said the Northwest Detention Center was never overcrowded, nor did it house the children whose detention drew protests earlier this year.

“The outrageous and baseless accusations that have been leveled against our facilities have led to misplaced aggression and a dangerous environment for our employees, whose safety is our top priority,” the company said.

Earlier this week another ICE office in San Antonio, Texas, was attacked, with a gunman shooting out a window in an office building where the agency’s deportation operation is based. GEO Group also maintained an office there.

ICE tied the attack to a growing animosity, fed in part by politicians, at law enforcement officers carrying out their duties to adhere to immigration laws.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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