Man accused of harassing people at mosque charged with hate crime

SEATTLE — A Renton man was charged with a hate crime, accused of harassing two men outside a Seattle mosque, screaming profanities at people inside the mosque and brandishing a large stick while making threats, charging documents said.

On May 22, 62-year-old Andre Leon Sterling went into a mosque at 9401 18th Ave SW in the Delridge area of West Seattle, where victims said he had shown up in the past, after a recent mosque shooting in California, the case summary said.

Police said when Sterling entered the mosque, he became aggressive with two men. When the men asked him to leave, he became extremely angry, started calling them “bitch” and made various statements about being military intelligence as he walked outside, probable cause documents said.

When the men told Sterling they were calling police, Sterling walked to his car and said, “F___ you, I'll be waiting for you,” and "send you boys back home,” charging documents said.

As one of the victims recorded Sterling’s license plate with his cellphone, Sterling claimed the plate was registered with Homeland Security, then opened his car door, grabbed a large stick, and screamed profanities and threats at the men before getting into his car and leaving.

When a Seattle police officer who took the police report from the victims was driving back to the precinct, he saw Sterling inside his car and took him into custody, police said.

The officer said he later took a statement from Sterling, who admitted to going to the mosque, but claimed the men there, who he referred to as radical Islamists, threatened him.

Sterling was charged with two counts of malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime law.

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