Olympia man charged for 2018 Jehovah’s Witness property shooting

The suspect fired about 35 rifle rounds at the Yelm Kingdom Hall, causing more than $10,000 in damage in May 2018.

YELM, Wash – An Olympia man was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle on Thursday in connection with the 2018 shooting that damaged the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Yelm.

Michael Lays, 50, allegedly fired about 35 rifle rounds at the center of worship, causing more than $10,000 in damage on May 15, 2018.

Parishioners were charged with one count of damaging religious property and one count of using a firearm while committing a violent crime, a hate crime. According to the US Department of Justice, the initial indictment charged him with one count of unlawfully possessing an unregistered firearm.

If convicted, Lays faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of damaging religious property related to the use of dangerous weapons. If convicted of illegally possessing an unregistered firearm, he faces up to 10 years in prison. He faces a sentence of at least 10 consecutive years in prison to whatever sentence is applied to the remaining gun charge.

The incident was one of a series of attacks on Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Southern Puget Sound from 2018 to 2020. An arsonist attacked two Kingdom Halls on March 19. – one in Tumwater and one in Olympia. Another fire consumed the Olympia Kingdom Hall in July.

Eight properties of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area were vandalized, either by fire or by gunfire during those two years.

Layers is not involved in any other crimes.

No one was injured in any of the incidents.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/olympia-man-charged-2018-shooting-jehovahs-witness-kingdom-hall/281-e44490fd-4be5-479d-8107-b070f6f432f5 Olympia man charged for 2018 Jehovah’s Witness property shooting

Edmund DeMarche

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