Seattle police say a 25-year-old Tacoma man brought a BB gun on his trip into the city last week because he was worried about being robbed.
But instead of being a victim, Kevin O’Connor is the alleged aggressor in a May 3 road-rage incident that resulted in O’Connor being charged Thursday with felony harassment for allegedly pointing what looked like a handgun at a male pedestrian on Rainier Avenue South, court records show.
The victim snapped a photo of the armed man as well as a vehicle’s license plate number and had a friend post the photo on Facebook. The photo was widely circulated by local media.
The photo enabled police to identify the driver of a black Volvo that O’Connor had been riding in, say the charges. O’Connor’s boss — the owner of a heating and air conditioning business in Puyallup — also recognized O’Connor and the vehicle, which belonged to another employee, the charges say.
Though the charges don’t explicitly state what led to O’Connor being identified, it appears his boss contacted police with information about O’Connor and the other employee.
In the photo, O’Connor is wearing a T-shirt with the name of the Puyallup company on his chest, say charging documents. O’Connor’s boss declined to comment Thursday due to concerns the incident would negatively impact his business.
O’Connor went to Seattle police headquarters on Tuesday, where he provided a voluntary statement and was arrested, the charges say.
In addition to the felony harassment charge for threatening the male pedestrian with what prosecutors say was “a realistic looking BB gun,” O’Connor was also charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, for allegedly hitting the victim’s female companion with a bottle he hurled out of one of the Volvo’s windows, according to charging papers.
He remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Though O’Connor has no prior criminal convictions, he has a pending case in Thurston County where he is charged with harassment and intimidating a witness, both crimes of domestic violence, as well as possession of weapons capable of producing harm, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Stephani Knightlinger noted in the charges filed Thursday.
The driver of the black Volvo was not arrested.
The alleged encounter between O’Connor and the two pedestrians happened just before 8:30 p.m. May 3 at Rainier Avenue South and South Genesee Street. Traffic in the area was disrupted because police were investigating an unrelated shooting that happened two hours earlier.
As the two pedestrians — a 23-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman — crossed Rainier, the traffic signal changed.
“The driver … of a black Volvo shouted obscenities at them, angry that his passage through the intersection was delayed,” the charges say. The driver yelled a gay slur and mocked the woman’s weight, and the woman yelled back at the driver, say charging papers.
The Volvo drove through the intersection and the pedestrians walked south along Rainier. By the time the two pedestrians made it to South Lucile Street, the Volvo had returned and the driver and O’Connor again shouted at them, according to the charges.
It was at that point, police say, O’Connor threw a bottle of de-icer, hitting the female pedestrian in the arm. The Volvo then drove away.
The male pedestrian decided to get a photo of the Volvo’s license plate, and so two blocks later, as the vehicle approached South Orcas Street, he ran up with his cellphone, according to charging papers. That’s when O’Connor got out of the car and pointed what appeared to be a black handgun at the man, who ran for cover and took the photo, the papers says.
Seattle police say O’Connor and the Volvo’s driver provided voluntary statements on Tuesday, according to the statement. The driver said he was unaware O’Connor “was going to threaten these victims,” the statement says.
According to police, O’Connor “was afraid they might get robbed or in another bad situation” when they came to Seattle so that he and his co-worker could sell gift cards in a deal made online. After the two heated exchanges with the pedestrians, police say O’Connor saw the male pedestrian run up to the Volvo and thought he might be armed.
After getting back in the car, O’Connor allegedly commented, “Damn, that scared the (expletive) out of them,” charging papers say.