Local news

In brief: Man accused of writing threatening letters

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2013

OLYMPIA – Police have arrested a Bellingham man accused of writing letters to a Washington state newspaper that contained threats to kill Gov. Jay Inslee, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.

The Olympian newspaper reported that 59-year-old Timothy McNiven was held on $200,000 bail Thursday in the Thurston County Jail in Olympia. A judge found probable cause to support allegations of making threats against the governor, intimidation of a public servant and three counts of felony harassment.

McNiven has told court officials he is schizophrenic. He also has said he used to get VA counseling and support services, but those were canceled about two years ago. He has no prior criminal record. He was arrested Wednesday.

Court documents say state troopers retrieved four letters allegedly written by McNiven at the Olympian on April 30.

The newspaper said the State Patrol learned that the U.S. Secret Service has had contact with McNiven in the past.

M16 rifle missing from sheriff’s office

EPHRATA – The Grant County sheriff’s office said a military-style rifle is missing.

Sheriff Tom Jones said he asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate after an internal investigation failed to determine what happened to the M16, .223-caliber fully automatic rifle. It’s a weapon issued to patrol deputies.

The news website Ifiberone.com reported the rifle turned up missing in an inventory check. It was last known to be in a secure firearms room at the Grant County Courthouse in Ephrata.

Florist sues state in gay wedding case

RICHLAND – A florist targeted by two lawsuits for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding has filed her own lawsuit against Washington state, claiming the state is violating her religious beliefs.

The lawsuits stem from an incident in March when Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers refused to provide flowers for a longtime client because she said same-sex marriage was against her personal beliefs.

Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal ministry, filed suit Thursday on behalf of Stutzman in Benton County Superior Court, the Tri-City Herald reported.

“Everyone knows that plenty of florists are willing to assist in same-sex ceremonies, so the state has no reason to force Barronelle to violate her deeply held beliefs,” Senior Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt said in a statement.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state filed suit against Stutzman, 68, on behalf of the Kennewick gay couple denied service.

Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed were longtime patrons of the flower shop.

That lawsuit seeks a court order barring her from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation and damages for violation of the couple’s rights as well as unspecified damages.

Under state law, it’s illegal for businesses to refuse to sell goods, merchandise and services to any person because of their sexual orientation.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson also has filed a consumer protection lawsuit.

Washington voters legalized gay marriage in November. However, protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation were codified in 2006 in one of the first pushes to expand civil rights to the gay community.

Chinook Pass set to reopen today

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to reopen Chinook Pass at 10 a.m. today, weather permitting.

Crews have been working more than a month to clear snow and avalanches from Highway 410 on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park.

The 5,400-foot pass was closed for the winter on Nov. 12.


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