Prosecutor charges alleged protest shooter with 2nd degree Assault

The Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Christopher M. Guenzler, the man accused of firing a shot during an altercation at a protest event downtown Saturday, with 2nd Degree Assault while Armed with a Deadly Weapon, according to court documents.

The arresting officer’s narrative report gives the following account of what happened:

On Saturday, December 5th, at approximately 1:45 pm, Olympia Police officers were staged in the area of 5th Ave SE and Cherry St SE awaiting to “address the crowd of protesters if necessary”. The crowd of protesters was reported to be approximately 50 people, involved in a disturbance.

The group was described as half “Pro-Trump supporters, dressed in various Trump, Culp, and Patriotic attire”. The other half of the group was described as “Antifa counter protesters, dressed in all black, wearing helmets and carrying shields”.

Officers had received reports of assaults, smoke bombs, possible shots fired, and rocks and bottles being thrown. One 911 caller reported that he was watching a “live feed of the event with still shot photographs of an IED (improvised explosive device) being thrown and live rounds fired.”

When officers contacted the reporting party, he stated that he saw, on the live feed, a “male subject pull a firearm and point it at a group of people”. He could not see if the firearm was specifically pointed at a person, due to the view of the camera. The reporting party also saw “some form of a device being thrown with yellow gas in the area”.

Officers obtained screenshots of the video, and advised that the subject pointing the firearm appeared to be “a white male, with brown hair, wearing a brown beanie cap, a bright neon yellow sweatshirt with an image, an orange undershirt, and light brownish/grey utility style pants.”

In one of the screenshots, this man has a flag in his left hand, while he is holding a pistol in his right hand. “His arm is raised, and the muzzle of the firearm was pointed forward as you would point a firearm to engage a ‘target'” the report reads.

Officers began attempting to locate the man shown in the photos, and a detective was able to locate him when the protesters approached Olympia City Hall.

Detectives retained the firearm and a can of Sabre pepper spray that was located on the Guenzler’s person. He was cooperative and agreed to give a taped statement to officers.

In the statement, Guenzler told officers he was in a “verbal altercation with Antifa members in the area of 11th Ave SE and Capitol Way S.” He elaborated further, saying the group was “charging the Trump supporters and swinging on them”, and that “a subject had attempted to swing on Guenzler but was unsuccessful.”

The same subject then allegedly began assaulting another subject, and Guenzler “intervened by pistol whipping the subject in the head”. The subject who was pistol-whipped was wearing protective headgear, and “did not feel it”.

Guenzler told officers he was “alone and was getting approached by three Antifa members. He pointed his firearm at them to step back which was effective.” He was then pepper-sprayed, which effected his ability to see and hear, and he holstered his firearm.

At this point in the statement, Guenzler appeared extremely nervous, according to the officer. He was “sweating, twiddling his thumbs, stumbling over his words, stuttering, and apologized repeatedly for being nervous”.

Guenzler said that he came to a pro-Trump rally in Olympia, which he assumed was going to be a peaceful flag-waving, social event, and he did not know any Antifa members would be there.

Officers then found a video placed on open source media, which shows “Guenzler in an altercation, he steps back, draws his firearm, and (a) blast is seen from the muzzle consistent with a handgun firing a live round of ammunition”.

According to the officer, it appeared in the video the firearm was “intentionally fired at a specific person, leading (her) to believe there was a potential gunshot wound victim”.

After the Officer saw the video, Guenzler was asked if he wished to continue speaking with her, and he “stated his heart was racing fast”. Guenzler insinuated that he did not know if he had discharged his firearm or not, and Officers asked him “wouldn’t (you) know if (you) pulled the trigger?” He stated he did not have his finger on the trigger.

The suspect, at that point, decided he wanted to end the statement/interview, and was placed under arrest. While officers were searching him, he stated “well there goes my gun rights”.

Officers seized a holster, a magazine, a megaphone, a flagpole with two flags, a Springfield XD 9mm handgun, and his clothes as evidence. Officers searched the area at 11th/Capitol for a spent casing, which was located, and also placed into evidence.

Guenzler is currently being held in the Thurston County Jail with no bail.

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