A 44-year-old Seattle-area man has been identified as the suspect in Friday's violent arson attack and bomb threat next to a Tesla property in Lynnwood, Wash. that led to an hours-long standoff finally ended by a SWAT team unit. The arson attack and bomb threat followed promises the same day by Twitter Antifa accounts to burn down Tesla properties as revenge against Elon Musk for suspending their accounts.
Michael Paul Hargett allegedly threatened a business owner with a screwdriver at a business next to a Tesla store on Nov. 25 before threatening responding police with a crowbar. According to the Lynnwood Police Department, Hargett said he was armed with a handgun. An attempt to tase the suspect failed. Police say he barricaded himself in a room and moved propane and acetylene tanks in position, threatening to blow up the area.
During the attack, Hargett allegedly smashed windows open so he could hurl projectiles at police. Once the suspect started a fire, a mobilized SWAT unit doused the flames with a fire hose before breaching the building by using a robot. Police evacuated the area during the stand off that lasted nearly five hours.
Hargett was charged with felony second-degree assault, felony second-degree arson, felony first-degree malicious mischief of a business, felony theft of a motor vehicle and misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
The incident came at a tense time for Tesla as earlier the same day, a prominent Portland Antifa account that organized multiple violent direct actions had called for attacks on Tesla properties.
"The fascist Elon Musk has chosen his side in history aligning with fascists and white supremacy so tonight we are calling for actions across the so-called 'US' at every local Tesla dealership," read the flyer shared by "@AshRedacted." The flyer listed Portland's Tesla store address and the account followed up with addresses of Tesla locations across the country. The account was later suspended following reporting by this journalist.
Though police have not stated a possible political motive for Friday's incident next to a Tesla store, Antifa accounts nonetheless praised the attack.
"Someone in Lynnwood, WA went to the Tesla service center last night and (allegedly) set it on fire only after (allegedly) threatening the pigs with a crowbar and getting tased. They had to call in swat. F—kin' legend," tweeted Rose City Antifa member, "@Redwood_PDX."
But not every Antifa account was happy that calls for attacks were announced early on Twitter.
"You do not need to announce a target before hitting it. In fact you should explicitly not do that," wrote Portland Antifa account, "@dennisispeasant."
"If the goal is the immediate gains from an attack I shouldn’t know about it until after it happens and I should never know who did it...We are massively underpowered compared to our enemies and thus we must be f—ng sneaky."
Seattle-area reporter Jonathan Choe was outside the stand-off last Friday night.
"When I arrived I saw multiple streets blocked off and the SWAT team was on scene trying to negotiate with a man who barricaded himself into an auto body shop," Choe said. "With multiple reports of threats by Antifa and far-left activists against Tesla, especially in the Pacific Northwest, I asked if this situation had anything to do with that. The officer said at the time he couldn’t confirm or deny anything since it was too early."
At the bail hearing for the suspect on Monday afternoon in Snohomish County, the judge said Hargett has another open criminal case for burglary. State prosecutors requested bail be increased from $50,000 to $100,000, but that was denied by the judge. Hargett is still currently in the county jail.