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Man critically wounded during UW protest; 'person of interest' in custody

UW protest turns ugly. (KOMO)

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Milo Yiannopolous as belonging to the alt-right movement. He does not. KOMO News apologizes for the error.

SEATTLE (KOMO) - A protest at the University of Washington over a controversial speaker turned ugly Friday night. Seattle Police report that a 32-year-old man was shot in the stomach and had to be removed from the crowd.

The man was shot behind Kane Hall. Seattle Fire said the victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. He was in surgery late Friday night.

A person later turned himself in to UW police in connection with the shooting. He has been described as a person of interest and is being questioned.

UW Police Chief John Vinson said police haven't identified a motive for the shooting.

Witnesses told KOMO News that the victim was trying to keep the peace at the height of tensions during the protests.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement, saying police will release more details as they become available. "Seattle has a long, proud tradition of speaking up and speaking out, but we will not tolerate violence of any kind, against any person. Thousands of Seattleites, including myself, will speak up and march peacefully throughout this weekend."

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce also issued a statement saying, "I am absolutely heartbroken that someone was shot on our campus during tonight's protest. I have been very proud of our students who, to the best of my knowledge, acted with restraint, whether they were planning to attend the event or protest it peacefully. It is an outrage that anyone would resort to violence in the middle of this otherwise peaceful protest."

Bricks and paint balloons were thrown at police and other members of the crowd. At some point, police responded with pepper spray.

Police also were investigating an assault at Northeast 41st Street and University Way Northeast. The assault victim had a possible head injury.

The crowd mushroomed in size as hundreds of protesters from a Westlake Plaza protest and march arrived at Red Square on the UW campus.

Police were refusing to let people in. Several police were hit with paint balloons, police said. One young man was hit in the face.

The young man claimed he was pulled into a crowd and then beaten for wearing a hat in support of Trump.

"The beat him like a bunch of piranhas, they just attacked my son," said his father. "I tried to get in there and tried to defend him and they started slugging me, too."

"I seriously stood on the edge, just trying to listen to what they were saying," said the man. "I did nothing to agitate them. The most I did was stand up there, wearing this hat. All I wanted to do was hear what they were chanting about and read their signs."

"They took his hat from him," said the father. "When he went to reach for it they just [started] beating the hell out of him."

Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer for the conservative website Breitbart, was scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter in 2016 after his followers targeted an African-American actress. He has also been criticized for his involvement in GamerGate, which "claims to promote ethics in gaming journalism but has been condemned for its treatment of women," according to CNN.

Protesters began gathering hours before the speech at the UW's Red Square.

Crowds of protesters then lined the entrance to Kane Hall as VIPs and general ticket holders made their way inside to attend Yiannopoulos' speech. Police said at one point some protesters in masks attempted to rush the entrance, forcing police to push the line back and stop letting people inside.

Protesters then started chanting, "shut it down" in an effort to get police and the university to cancel the speech, while people waiting to get inside chanted, "let us in!"

After Yiannopoulos' speech, Seattle Police made the crowd wait inside Kane Hall for about an hour, until the crowds outside calmed down. Attendees were then ushered through a back stairwell, under a parking garage that came out at 15th Avenue, away from Red Square. A few protesters were there to greet the crowd, but police said the exit was peaceful and there were no further incidents.

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