Assault charges filed Monday against a Ravenna couple in connection with the shooting of a protester outside a speech by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos on Jan. 20 allege they went to the University of Washington campus that night looking for trouble.
Marc and Elizabeth Hokoana had armed themselves — him with pepper-spray and her with a Glock semi-automatic handgun in a holster under her coat — and went to the protest intending to goad demonstrators they knew would be there, King County prosecutors allege. Several witnesses said the couple appeared to be intoxicated.
According to the charges, the day before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to talk at Kane Hall, Marc Hokoana had messaged a friend on Facebook, stating, “I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going to the milo event and if the snowflakes get out (of) hand I’m going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.”
His friend asked him if he was “going to carry.”
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Hokoana responded, “Nah, I’m going full melee,” but then wrote “Lily … is,” referring to his wife, Elizabeth.
The charges allege Elizabeth Hokoana fired a single round from the handgun into the stomach of 34-year-old Joshua Dukes, a member of the International Workers of the World (IWW) as Dukes confronted Marc Hokoana for using pepper spray in the crowd.
Dukes was critically wounded in the shooting.
Elizabeth Hokoana, 29, is charged with first-degree assault, with a firearm enhancement, and her husband, Marc, also 29, a one-time UW student, is charged with third-degree assault over his alleged use of pepper spray.
Prosecutors will seek bail for each of them at $50,000 when they are arraigned on May 8. The couple remain free.
If convicted as charged, Elizabeth Hokoana could face up to 10 years in prison.
“The degree of planning involved in this crime demonstrates the danger that these defendants present to the community,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa, who has been reviewing the University of Washington police investigation into the shooting for nearly two weeks.
The shooting, Barbosa noted, “was not an impulsive act done in a moment of fear.”
Evidence in the charging papers “demonstrates that the defendants went to the event at the UW campus with the intent to provoke altercations with protesters who they knew would be at this controversial event,” Barbosa wrote.
“The defendants created a situation designed to allow Elizabeth Hokoana to shoot the victim in the middle of an extremely crowded event under the guise of defending her or her husband,” she added.
Steve Wells, the attorney for Elizabeth Hokoana, and Kim Gordon, Marc Hokoana’s attorney, issued a joint statement Monday vowing to fight the charges, reiterating earlier claims that the shooting was justified.
“We have provided the police and the prosecution evidence showing that our clients acted lawfully in defense of others,” the statement said. “The accuser, Joshua Dukes, has repeatedly stated that he does not want this to go through the criminal-justice system. We are disappointed that the prosecution has decided otherwise. We look forward to presenting our case to a jury and we anticipate an acquittal.”
Dukes’ attorney has said her client did not want criminal charges to be filed and had hoped to engage in “restorative justice” with the couple.
A police statement of probable cause outlines an investigation that included talking to several witnesses as well as a detailed review and professional analysis of numerous cellphone videos of the protest and shooting. Some of the videos were later enhanced and reviewed by experts, according to the charges.
The Seattle Times obtained copies of the videos from the prosecutor’s office under a public-records request.
Several witnesses identified Marc Hokoana as an agitator who was goading the protesters, police wrote.
The shooting came after Marc Hokoana, in a Facebook message reviewed by The Seattle Times before it was taken down, messaged Yiannopoulos and said he had lost his “Make America Great Again” hat after being punched. He asked Yiannopoulos if he would autograph a new one, but Yiannopoulos never replied.
The charges identified a witness, “B.F.,” who saw and took still photographs of a scuffle involving an Asian man who “had a red Make America Great Again hat he lost in a fight” and who detectives identified through the photos as Marc Hokoana.
“B.F. stated that the individual kept going over to the group of protesters and agitating the group by calling them snowflakes, libtards and staying that (Trump) was their president,” according to the charges. “B.F. stated that the man seemed to be there only to provoke the crowd.”
The charges allege Marc Hokoana used a small tear-gas gun on members of the crowd. Dukes apparently moved to break up a conflict between Hokoana and a group when he was shot.
The Hokoanas turned themselves in to UW police about two hours after the shooting and said they had been involved in a “self-defense” shooting.
However, the charging documents allege the Hokoanas went to the UW campus that night looking for a reason to use to use the weapons they were carrying.
One video clip reviewed by a detective “showed Elizabeth Hokoana with her right hand under her coat as her husband, Marc Hokoana, was directly in front of her in the video assisting a person as he confronted the protesters.”
The movement, the detective said, “was consistent with a person who was attempting to pull a concealed pistol from a holster.”
That video clip was taken a half-hour before the shooting, according to the charges.
A review of several videos of the actual shooting by Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions, an independent video expert, indicated that Mark Hokoana was facing away from Dukes at the time of the shooting while Elizabeth Hokoana was looking right at Dukes when the shot was fired, and then backed away from him.
David Hallimore, an audio specialist with Recorded Evidence Solutions, said he was able to extract some audio from the recording. He says Marc Hokoana can be heard telling Elizabeth to “calm down” and “Don’t shoot anyone.”
“Marc Hokoana can then be heard telling Elizabeth Hokoana that others in the crowd, ‘They have to start this. They have to start it.’ ”