As Washington’s Kittitas County prepares for a memorial service this Thursday for slain Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson by a man who was in this country illegally, Mercer Island Democrat State Sen. Lisa Wellman is getting some brickbats, because her bill to expand the state’s sanctuary rules is advancing in Olympia.
According to KING 5 News, the Seattle-based NBC affiliate, the memorial will be held at Central Washington University, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Nicholson Pavilion.
Thompson was fatally wounded in a shootout with a man identified as Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro. Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez, who was wounded in the shooting, was released from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Saturday.
Del Toro was also fatally wounded. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told reporters last week that he had overstayed his work visa, which he obtained when he crossed the border at Laredo, Texas in 2014. It still hasn’t been determined why he opened fire as officers pursued him for what was originally a road rage report.
But the incident, which has been reported nationally, has brought renewed attention to the immigration crisis, and no small amount of fury toward Wellman’s legislation, as underscored by some remarks from readers reacting to a report in the Seattle Times.
There was also some irony in a few of the remarks from people wondering how Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson can demand that county sheriffs and gun dealers comply with the provisions of gun control Initiative 1639, yet apparently turn their backs on enforcing federal immigration laws.
Presently, at least 20 sheriffs and more than a half-dozen county commissions are on record against enforcing provisions of the measure, which raised the minimum age in Washington to buy a semiautomatic rifle, and classified literally all semi-auto rifles as “semiautomatic assault rifles.”
The National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation are suing in federal court against initiative provisions.
For example, one Times reader identified as “sidehill” wrote, “Tell me why it is okay for the state to condone illegal immigration but not for the Eastern Washington sheriffs to selectively enforce gun laws?”
But now comes the report about Wellman’s legislation in the Seattle Times in a case of what may amount to remarkably poor timing. How that legislation might be affected by Thompson’s death remains to be seen. One Times reader identified as “Accountability Advocate” had this to say: “Lisa Wellman, how could you be so insensitive for the family of a policeman who was murdered by an illegal immigrant?”
Wellman’s bill, according to the Times, has passed the state Senate and a hearing was held Friday in the House.