Granite Falls mayor jailed in airport incident



SEATAC, Wash. - The mayor of Granite Falls was arrested in an incident at Sea-Tac Airport that involved alleged threats to harm family members, an airport spokesman said.


According to airport spokesman Perry Cooper, police were called to the Alaska Airlines baggage claim area at 8:12 p.m. Monday for a disturbance in which a man was yelling and threatening to harm family members. Because of the threats, in accordance with state law, he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence harassment.


Shortly after, the KIRO 7 Eyewitness News assignment desk received a call from a viewer who said it was Mayor Haroon Saleem who was arrested.   The King County Jail roster confirmed the arrest.


"He was just defending me, and I am very thankful for him and I love him with all my heart," said Nida Haroon, Saleem's teenage daughter.


She said she was flying home from Los Angeles, where she had a fight with her cousin. Her cousin was on the same flight, but was sitting apart from Nida.


Nida said she called her father and said she was being picked on. Once Nida and her cousin arrived at Sea-Tac Airport, an argument ensued between Saleem and the cousin.


Nida said she arrived at the baggage claim area to find her father sitting in handcuffs.


The cousin pushed Saleem twice before Saleem threatened her in the heat of the moment, said Bushra Haroon, Saleem's wife.


"She pushed Saleem twice and everyone saw that," Bushra Haroon said. "And they told police that she's the one who started (it)."


She said said Saleem was just defending his daughter.


A witness told KIRO 7 reporter Michelle Millman that the argument was “dramatic and loud” and she was worried it would get physical but then police arrived.


According to court papers, Saleem threatened to kill his niece and her family.


Cooper said incidents occasionally occur at the airport but rarely end up in similar arrests.


Granite Falls councilwoman Elizabeth Adams told KIRO 7 that councilmembers are waiting for the case to be resolved to comment on it. 

Saleem's Timberline cafe was evicted from a space in downtown Granite Falls two months ago after a dispute with the building owner.


In 2010, the mayor suspended the police chief after a large drug sweep. Residents staged protests.


"There's gonna be things that happen in every city, doesn't matter where you go," Adams said. "Ours just happens to be caught on camera a lot lately."


Saleem was released from jail Monday afternoon and invited KIRO 7 to his home to talk with him about the incident. See the story based on that interview here.