Man charged with felony stalking of US Representative Pramila Jayapal

Brett Forsell arrested this month after yelling obscenities and threats outside Ms Jayapal's Seattle home

Pramila Jayapal  became the first Indian-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives in 2016. AFP
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A 49-year-old man from Seattle, Washington, arrested earlier this month on suspicion of committing a hate crime against US Representative Pramila Jayapal and threatening to kill her has been charged with felony stalking.

Brett Forsell was arrested in early July after yelling obscenities and threats outside Ms Jayapal's Seattle home late at night and was jailed.

He was released when prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence for a hate crime charge, though authorities noted the investigation would continue.

In 2016, Ms Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives. The Democrat heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

As part of the felony stalking charge, prosecutors note Mr Forsell was armed with a deadly weapon and that Ms Jayapal was stalked in connection with her elected position.

Seattle police arrested Mr Forsell outside Ms Jayapal’s house in the Arbour Heights neighbourhood at 11.25pm on July 9 after she called 911 and reported an unknown person or people were near her home using obscene language and mentioning her name, probable cause documents said.

She told a dispatcher her husband thought someone may have fired a pellet gun, the documents added.

Police learnt the man had sent an email to Ms Jayapal’s public account in January, saying he didn’t like her.

Prosecutors said a judge had approved a bail amount of $500,000. It did not appear that Mr Forsell had been booked into jail as of Wednesday evening.

The Associated Press was unable to locate Mr Forsell for comment and it was not known if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Ms Jayapal said in a statement that the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office charging Mr Forsell with felony stalking demonstrates that the justice system is doing its work.

“I am grateful to the King County Prosecutor’s Office for holding this man accountable for his dangerous actions, to the victim’s advocate for her assistance throughout the process and to the Seattle Police Department, US Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms for continuing to keep my family, me and my staff safe,” Ms Jayapal said.

Updated: July 29, 2022, 7:52 PM
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