Lynnwood man arrested for making violent threats toward Black, Hispanic communities across country

A Lynnwood man faces two counts of interstate threats after threatening to shoot Black and Hispanic people. According to federal prosecutors, 37-year-old Joey George called a Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, New York, the same chain where 10 people were shot and killed in May, threatening to shoot all the Black people inside, including women, children and babies. The United States Attorney’s Office says the call happened on July 19 and he called back the next day, ranting to an employee about a “race war.”

“He called the next day again to that same store and said he was going to start a race war and that he intended to kill these people,” U.S Attorney of the Western District of Washington Nick Brown said.

“I mean, these represent just phone calls. But, we don’t know whether the individual planned to follow up on those,” Brown said.

The criminal complaint says George called a restaurant in San Bruno, California, where he told an employee he would shoot all the Black and Hispanic people inside if they weren’t out of the restaurant in 20 minutes. San Bruno police called back the number George used. George provided a fake name and told an officer over the phone he wanted to attack Black people and strike fear into the Bay Area’s Black community.

Documents also state George made similar phone calls to other places in the country, including the Western Washington area. Brown says the number of hate crimes and racial threats has gotten worse in the United States.

“And depending on how you do the analysis, Washington is unfortunately and has more hate crimes than the vast majority of states in this country,” Brown said.

Brown says when it comes to threats like this, the public should never hesitate to report them.

“Sometimes these don’t lead to anything, but other times they lead to violence. And whether violent acts occurs or not, they lead to a really uncomfortable and dangerous environment for us all,” Brown said.

George made his first appearance before a judge on Friday. He is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Sea-Tac. His next appearance is set for Monday.