Couple charged in shooting of protester at Milo Yiannopoulos event in Seattle

Elizabeth Hokoana charged with first-degree assault for shooting 34-year-old protester in abdomen, and her husband was charged with third-degree assault

Prosecutors on Monday charged a couple in connection with a Seattle shooting during a demonstration over an appearance by the rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in January.

Elizabeth Hokoana, 29, was charged with first-degree assault for shooting a 34-year-old protester in the abdomen. Her husband, Marc Hokoana, was charged with third-degree assault. Lawyers for the two said they acted in self-defense.

Joshua Dukes, 34, was critically injured in the 20 January shooting and had several surgeries before he was released from a hospital.

The shooting happened outside a University of Washington auditorium where Yiannopoulos, a far-right commentator known for leading a hate campaign that resulted in a lifetime ban from Twitter, was appearing.

In charging papers, King County prosecutors say this shooting was not an impulsive act done in a moment of fear.

Instead, the two went to the campus event with the intent to provoke altercations with protesters who they knew would also be at this controversial event, wrote Mary Barbosa, senior deputy prosecuting attorney.

Joshua Dukes, 34, was critically injured in the January shooting. Photograph: Rafael Soldi for the Guardian

Barbosa added that they created a situation designed to allow Elizabeth Hokoana to shoot the victim in the middle of an extremely crowded event under the guise of defending herself or her husband.

Marc Hokoana messaged a friend on Facebook the day before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to talk and said he cant wait for tomorrow, according to police officials. In the Facebook message, obtained by a search warrant, he wrote: Im going to the Milo event and if the snowflakes get out off hand Im just going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.

Lawyers for the couple said in a statement that the two have given police and prosecutors evidence showing that our clients acted lawfully in defense of others.

A local TV station reported that emergency medical responders had found brass knuckles in Dukes pocket, based on a readout of the EMS radio dispatch. Dukes found the allegation both amusing and infuriating; he showed a Guardian reporter the alleged brass knuckles a plastic finger strengthener used by guitarists.

We look forward to presenting our case to a jury and we anticipate an acquittal, lawyers Kim Gordon and Steven Wells said.

Warrants have been issued for the arrests of the two, but they are not expected to be booked before their arraignment set for 8 May, according to their lawyers and the prosecutors office. Prosecutors have sought $50,000 bail for each.

In an interview with the Guardian, Dukes recalled thinking when he was shot: Im not dead right now so I havent been shot in the heart.

The bullet went in through his abdomen and exited his back. Two months later, he still bears an oozing wound and a long surgical scar. He has lost his gall bladder and half his colon. His liver was severely damaged; his diaphragm pierced.

Despite the wound and long recovery, he wants to stop the violence, and has requested that the shooter not be sent to prison, but instead join them in a restorative justice process.

As of early April, their offer had been rejected. We agree that a restorative justice process could be helpful to both Mr Dukes and the Hokoanas, the couples lawyers said in a statement. But while this is an open investigation and the state has the power to file charges, despite Mr Dukes wishes, Elizabeth and Marc are not able to participate.

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