EVERETT – A self-described “incel” – a person who is involuntarily celibate – has been charged with three felonies in connection with threats to shoot and bomb an Everett women’s basketball game last month.
Michael Harsh has a history of similar threats, including at a local blood donation center and a state ferry.
On Feb. 17, the day after his 43rd birthday, Harsh arrived at the Evergreen Middle School gymnasium on his bicycle, according to new charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court. It was the third quarter of the seventh grade girls’ basketball game against Voyager Middle School.
The man from Everett would have walked towards the main entrance, where a few children were standing. They backed off when they saw what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun in his hand, according to court documents.
A few minutes later, Harsh walked into the gym with a backpack. He walked to the middle of the gymnasium, screaming and holding the gun, according to the charges. Evergreen’s assistant manager followed Harsh onto the field, placing himself between the suspect and the other people in the gymnasium.
The 43-year-old allegedly then threw away his backpack and started walking towards a bench full of children. Parents and school staff ran to attack him, but he pushed them away. He tried to punch anyone who got too close, according to court documents. Throughout, he shouted obscenities, insults and what the charges describe as “Christian rhetoric”.
The deputy director and others were finally able to tackle the suspect. In the struggle, the gun was untied and taken to the gymnasium office. As they restrained him, Harsh said he was going to kill them, prosecutors say. And he looked directly at the deputy director and said he would kill the administrator.
Harsh also claimed he had a bomb, according to court documents. He said he had a dead man’s switch to detonate the bomb, repeatedly shouting that he would kill people in the gym.
When the police arrived, they found people coming out of the gymnasium.
“It was chaos when the gym broke up,” Assistant District Attorney Martha Saracino wrote in the charging documents.
After police took over from the civilians restraining Harsh, the suspect said he wanted the police to kill him, according to court documents. He also allegedly asked an officer to let him kill another of the officers on the spot. He also asked a female officer if a woman would touch a man like him.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Harsh reportedly said.
As he was taken to the Snohomish County Jail, the Everett man called himself an “incel,” which is slang for an involuntarily celibate person, usually a man, harboring extreme resentment, according to the accusations. He said he hadn’t had sexual contact in 20 years.
At the prison, a nurse asked for his name and Harsh reportedly replied, “If no one touches you, you don’t deserve a name.”
Police later determined that the weapon was an air pistol and not a real firearm. There was also no bomb or ignition device on him. But the deputy director told investigators he didn’t know. He feared for his life as he confronted the suspect.
Harsh also told the prison nurse that he went to school thinking about a past incident. He would have called it “stupid”.
A week after the incident, a judge approved a one-year extreme risk protection order against Harsh, court records show. This prohibits him from accessing firearms due to the danger to the community.
At the school, counselors were made available to students to address what happened, Everett Public Schools spokeswoman Kathy Reeves said in an email. There was also an Everett police officer on the scene at home games after the incident.
Prosecutors charged Harsh with two counts of criminal harassment, one count of bomb threats and one count of unlawfully displaying a weapon, a misdemeanor.
In 2008, Harsh was sentenced to less than two months in prison for threatening to kill employees at an Evergreen Way blood donation site for not letting him donate plasma, court records show. He reported he had three handguns and threatened someone with a Taser. He also threatened to kill police officers. This appears to be his only prior felony conviction.
Four years later, the man was charged with speaking a bomb threat while on a ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo, according to a report at the time.
The suspect was in the Snohomish County Jail this week in lieu of $250,000 bond.
Rue Jake Goldstein: 425 339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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