Man shot on UW campus during protest is improving, breathing on his own

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

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A man was shot Friday night on the University of Washington campus during a protest for a controversial speaker, and the suspected shooter turned himself in claiming self defense, police said. 

The large crowd packed the Red Square area of campus Friday night protesting a speech by controversial Brietbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. 

Key developments:

  • The first medics were called for the shooting at 8:26 p.m.
  • Yiannopoulos is considered a leading voice on the alt-right and is an extremist.
  • The shooting happened on campus outside Yiannopoulos' event at Kane Hall. 
  • Police were blocking the entrance to Kane Hall, and investigators said bricks and paint were thrown at officers.  
  • Shooting victim in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center.
  • The suspect, accompanied by another individual, turned turn himself in to UW police detectives.
  • Both individuals were taken into custody and later released pending further investigation. 

The University of Washington College Republicans invited Yiannopoulos to speak on Friday, the day of Donald Trump's inauguration. People hoping to attend the event started gathering on campus around 5 p.m.

>> Related: Watch a recap of President Trump's Inauguration Day events

Protesters showed up around 6 p.m. and began clashing with police. Meanwhile, in downtown Seattle another protest left Westlake Park, with some demonstrators marching to the U-District to join the UW protest. 

>> Related: Time-stamped updates from Seattle protests on Inauguration Day

Protesters at UW threw rocks, fireworks, and other items at officers. They blocked the entrance to Kane Hall, but Yiannopoulos’ speech still started around 8 p.m.

A large crowd of protesters remained outside. 

Protesters from the Westlake Park rally were only about two blocks away from UW before the shooting happened. 

UW campus police said as its department worked with SPD, officers struggled with maintaining the line of people waiting to attend the event. While officers were trying to monitor the event, they received the report that someone was shot.

KIRO 7 Chopper caught video of bike officers rushing to a crowd of people shortly after the shooting. Moments later they were responding to a man on the ground.

The 34-year-old man was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. He was in critical condition. The man was previously identified by authorities as a 25-year-old.

On Saturday morning, hospital officials said the victim was in critical but stable condition. 

By Sunday, he had improved to serious condition in the ICU at Harborview and was breathing on his own.

Police clad in riot gear surrounded Red Square late Friday night. 

A UW alert went out to students' phones, telling them to stay out of the area after the shooting. Another alert later went out with the suspect's description. 

UW students were alerted to the suspected shooters arrest early Saturday morning. 

The suspect, accompanied by another individual, turned turn himself in to UW police detectives following the incident.

Both individuals were taken into custody. They were released hours later on Saturday pending further investigation. 

Seattle police responded to an assault report of a "head injury" about a block away from the campus around 9:15 p.m., but the department did not provide further details. 

Leaders respond to shooting after day of demonstrations 

Mayor Ed Murray released a statement as police searched for the gunman. 

"Seattle has a long, proud tradition of speaking up and speaking out, but we will not tolerate violence of any kind, against any person. Thousands of Seattleites, including myself, will speak up and march peacefully throughout this weekend," Murray said.

Seattle and UW campus police held a news conference late on Friday night. They told a room of reporters that they have been planning for weeks for protests; campus police prepped for nearly the last month. 

Police chief Kathleen O'Toole said that officers oversaw several successful demonstrations without injuries, with the exception of the UW protest, on Friday. 

Earlier in Seattle, protesters from Capitol Hill and Central District neighborhoods streamed downtown for an afternoon immigrant and refugee rights rally. Carrying signs that said “Fight Racism & Sexism” and “Resist Trump,” people from the earlier rallies met at Westlake Park downtown Friday afternoon. From Westlake Park, protesters marched through downtown and back to Capitol Hill. As mentioned earlier, some protesters from Westlake proceeded to the U-District. Read about those events in details here.

O'Toole said she's received many questions about expectations during the women's march on Saturday.

>> Read about the Women's March on Seattle crowd estimates and see a map here.

Her advice to demonstrators, “Any time you’re in a crowd with hundreds or thousands of people, please be vigilant.” 

Call to ban Yiannopoulos

An online petition asked UW president Ana Mari Cauce to ban Yiannopoulos from the event.

"Please make the right choice President Ana Mari Cauce and stand up for student safety and tolerance on campus. Please stand with us - your students, faculty, staff, workers, and community members in opposing this hatred from being spread on our campus," the petition said.

The group behind the petition said that Yiannopoulos' visit would violate the university's student conduct code. They specifically pointed to the following section: 

Discriminatory harassment. Discriminatory harassment is language or conduct directed at a person because of the person's race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive such that it could reasonably be expected to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, or has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person's academic or work performance, or the person's ability to participate in or benefit from the university's programs, services, opportunities, or activities.

The petition had more than 4,600 supporters. It was posted after the November election, around the time when UW College Republicans announced Yiannopoulos' event. 

On Yiannopoulo' Facebook page Friday afternoon, he posted a screengrab from a Twitter user that said, "Thought there were riots in D.C. today? Wait until the Milo event tonight at @UW." 

>> Read about the Washington, D.C. protests here.

He later posted on his Facebook account after the shooting, "My prayers are with the victim, whoever he is."

About Milo Yiannopoulos

Yiannopoulos is an openly gay conservative editor for Breitbart News who has criticized feminism, transgender rights, Islam and the Black Lives Matters movement.

Colleges nationwide hosting Yiannopoulos have canceled his appearance. Washington State University canceled his event, but it was because of weather. 

At University of California Davis, the crowd also turned tense, and the event was canceled. 

FILE JUNE 15: Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative columnist and internet personality, holds a press conference down the street from the Pulse Nightclub, June 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Twitter suspended Yiannopoulos from its platform after Yiannopoulos repeatedly violated its rules, CBS News reported last year.

The move followed a tense online stand-off between Yiannopoulos and "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones, who faced an onslaught of harassment from Yiannopoulos and his supporters on Twitter. Jones turned heads when, instead of ignoring or blocking the offensive tweets, she decided to retweet them to her followers, who number more than a quarter of a million.

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