An Antifa member with a long history of posting far-left extremist content online has been arrested and charged with the shooting of an anti-vaccine mandate protester in Olympia, Wash.
Benjamin Anthony Varela, 36, of Olympia, was arrested on Thursday and charged with first-degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon.
On Sept. 4, a couple dozen Antifa from around the Pacific Northwest traveled to the Washington state Capitol building to try to shut down an anti-COVID vaccine mandate protest. The black-clad group was met by the rally’s volunteer right-wing security, who included Proud Boys members.
When the Antifa group ran to the Intercity Transit Station, one of their masked members turned around and fired five 9mm pistol rounds in the direction of the right-wing group, which was about 50 feet behind, according to security footage. Proud Boys member Tusitala Toese was injured in the shooting.
Video of one of the assaults OlyPD is investigating from 9/4. If you have any information about this crime or other assaults from that day, please contact us at 360.753.8300 or 360.704.2740 or crime stoppers 800.222.8477. Statement from our Police Chief: https://t.co/rde2dhMwv2 pic.twitter.com/10PsUGUl1x
— Olympia Police Dept (@OlyPD) September 10, 2021
Varela, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, deleted most of his social media accounts before his arrest, but posts still available on Twitter show he corresponded back and forth with the Spokane and Olympia DSA chapters as well as Libcom.org, an anarchist-Communist website. Prior to deleting his Twitter account, his bio read, “professional anarchist, thug, and paid protester.”
His YouTube account, which is still online but doesn’t have any videos available to the public, features a red and black Antifa flag as its profile image. According to the affidavit, Varela ran into an alley behind the Union Gospel Mission after the shooting and discarded his black uniform.
The criminal complaint says the police interviewed Varela’s live-in girlfriend, Jessica Lynn O’Connor, 34, who admitted they attended the direct action together on Sept. 4 while in black attire. The detective obtained a search warrant for their property and found a handgun under the bed.
Varela is being held on $100,000 bail in Thurston County Jail.
This is an excerpt from the New York Post.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.