Judge Michael “Brett” Buckley returned to work smiling and in good spirits Wednesday, two days after he was assaulted when he answered the door of his Olympia home and was met by a man who threw a caustic liquid in his face.
“I love my job; I love what I do here,” the presiding Thurston County District Court judge said during an afternoon news conference in his courtroom. “That’s why I’m back today.”
Buckley also joked about his lack of lingering visible injuries.
“I’m happy to disappoint you that there’s not that much worthy of news by taking a picture of me,” he said to laughter from the audience, which included TV crews from Seattle as well as friends and co-workers.
Buckley said he began to chase his attacker, but he stopped when he felt facial irritation and realized the substance “was more than water.” He then went back into his home, locked the door and took a shower. Buckley later was treated at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Buckley said hospital staffers told him the immediate shower likely “prevented more significant damage.” He added that after surveying structural damage caused by the substance, he realizes he was right to not pursue the suspect.
“I am quite lucky to be standing before you today in this condition,” Buckley said.
He said that in his 17 years as judge, he has been threatened but not attacked. Buckley added that he realizes he’d let his guard down, and that he shouldn’t have answered his door Monday night without looking out the window.
“That was mistake,” he said. “We don’t need to be scared, but we need to be vigilant.”
Buckley said he has received an outpouring of support not only from court employees, but from participants in mental health court and veterans court programs he presides over.
“I have no reason to believe that the person who did this is in any way connected to these courts,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, Olympia police released a composite sketch of the suspect. Buckley has said he did not recognize the man but got a good look at him. Spokeswoman Laura Wohl said police have received tips based on the sketch but have yet to identify a suspect.
Wohl added that the samples of the substance that was thrown in Buckley’s face are being analyzed at a crime lab, and results might not be available for several days.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Detective Chris Johnstone at 360-709-2793.