Man admits to trying to cut down American flag outside Hoquiam City Hall, police say

A 39-year-old man from Elma was cited after police say he tried to cut down an American flag.

HOQUIAM, Wash. — A 39-year-old man from Elma was cited after police say he tried to cut down an American flag.

Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers with the Hoquiam Police Department received reports of a man outside City Hall with a knife.

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Police said the man drove up onto the sidewalk in front of the flag pole, got out of his car, opened both car doors and turned up the radio volume very loud.

The man was then seen throwing a double-bladed knife into the ground, police said.

Police said the man later dropped the knife and surrendered.

According to police, the man said he was trying to cut down the flag to give to the family of an officer who recently died.

“There’s no connection between him and the family, but it just kind of gives you an insight into the type of mental process that was going on for this person, which again makes us concerned when someone is out in the community and has a weapon. We do take that very seriously,” Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said.

Police said they later learned officers with the Aberdeen Police Department witnessed the same man attempting to cut down the American flag at the Aberdeen post office.

According to a witness, the man lowered the flag and was confronted by someone who knew him. The witness was able to get the flag back and the suspect drove off.

Police said the man is “well known” to law enforcement and has a history of drug abuse and mental illness.

Police said the suspect will likely face charges in Hoquiam and was cited for third-degree theft in Aberdeen.

“It’s not what you consider a serious crime, but it’s something that, under the totality of the circumstances, and the location it was, and the behavior we saw, really scares people,” Myers said. “In the over 30 years I’ve been doing this, it’s really becoming more and more prevalent that we’re dealing with this type of behavior.”