More than a month ago, Seattle Weekly reported on a video in which Marc Hokoana can be heard telling his wife Elizabeth Hokoana “don’t shoot anyone” just prior to a shooting at the University of Washington—a fact that seemed to contradict earlier reports that it was Marc who fired the shot that left a man in critical condition. Now it’s been confirmed by Elizabeth’s attorney, Steve Wells, that she was the shooter — something long claimed by the antifascist community.
Wells believes he has reached a point in the case where it’s possible to dump or reduce charges on Elizabeth.
“We believe she has an excellent self defense case,” he said. Wells explained that The Seattle Times had been provided information from somebody else that Elizabeth identified as the shooter, and so there was no point in keeping it a secret.
When asked why Elizabeth decided to bring a gun to a protest, and a university campus, Wells replied, “Mrs. Hokoana has a carry conceal permit. I think that’s as far as I want to go with that.”
The shooting happened Jan. 20 in Red Square, when a combination of inauguration and Milo Yiannopoulos protests faced off with Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump fans. An entire political spectrum was present, from anarchists who believe in zero violence to liberals to neo-nazis.
The victim, shot in the stomach, remained in the hospital for a month, underwent emergency surgeries, and is now out of the hospital. His medications stopped last week, but he is still needing physical therapy.
The altercation and shooting is seen in a Vidme video, though it remains unclear what exactly happened. Marc can be seen in a yellow cap throughout the video. The shot can be heard about 28 seconds into the video.
While the Hokoanas maintain that the shooting was in self-defense, Sarah Lippek, the victim’s attorney, claims Marc pepper sprayed people right before the shooting, sparking the victim’s involvement. Others have staked similar claims as well.
Numerous antifascists and anarchists have contacted me to relay videos, their experience, and suggest what their online research has gathered. The most frequent request was to look at videos, noting Elizabeth’s cocked elbow with her hand presumably on her hip, where sources insisted there was a holster. Unfortunately, the videos given to me weren’t at vantage points where a holster can be seen. It is thanks to this community, however, that Seattle Weekly was able to publish about the aforementioned video and another in which Marc also told Elizabeth “they have to start it.”
Marc brawled with a protester that night as well, as shown in Q13 Fox News’ video (the brawl is at 1:40 in the video).
The UWPD issued a warrant to search Marc’s phone in February. They have also been working with the Seattle Police Department to comb through videos, Periscopes, social media. UWPD is currently waiting for video and audio enhancements to come back before they send the case to the prosecuting attorney.
“I would describe [Marc and Elizabeth] as being very polite and cooperative,” said UWPD Major Steve Rittereiser.
There has been public outcry that the UWPD investigation is taking too long. This frustration focuses on the fact that Marc and Elizabeth turned themselves in to UWPD headquarters Jan. 20, around 12:30 a.m., stating that they were involved in a “self defense shooting.”
But Rittereiser said the department isn’t feeling more pressure than usual.
“It’s a police investigation and we’re just doing our job so I don’t think there’s any more pressure to do anything,” he said. “Obviously it’s an important case, but we don’t look at it as having more pressure than any particular case.”
Rittereiser also said UWPD has experienced a lot of support, heard from others that are impatient, and had others asking how to help.
“The important part is it seems like the community has been very supportive,” Rittereiser said.
Washington state is a concealed carry state, and it’s only a crime to bring a firearm onto K-12 school property. Bringing a firearm to a university campus is only administratively punishable if brought by a student.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans didn’t know of any other previous incidents in which a gun was fired on UW campus.
“I would bet one percent [of students] would ever even consider bringing a gun to campus,” he said. “Of those, if they have a license for that weapon, you would think they’d be very aware of the laws and rules governing the carrying of that weapon.”
The UW has gone through a series of rather alarming events that relate to a less accepting environment that is so often espoused by the alt-right, and people like Yiannopoulos. A UW Muslim woman and student had a bottle thrown at her head while walking on campus in Dec. 2016, neo-Nazi recruitment posters have been posted on the UW campus since Jan. 17, and the Q Center, a safe haven for queer students, had a student come in yelling with a visible six-inch knife on his person.
Kelsey Hamlin is a reporter at the UW’s newspaper The Daily, and freelances mostly with South Seattle Emerald. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.