In a video that is being widely circulated online, a man was seen driving into a crowd before shooting and injuring a protester in Seattle on Sunday, June 7. Now, social media is abuzz with theories that the man, identified as Nikolas Fernandez, is an undercover police officer.
As previously reported by International Business Times, video footage showed Fernandez speeding into a crowd protesting over the death of George Floyd in Seattle's Capitol Hill area before hitting a police barricade. As soon as the car came to a halt, a swarm of protesters surrounded the car and a 27-year-old male tried to disarm Fernandez when he was shot.
Fernandez, 31, then emerged from the vehicle carrying a gun in one hand with an additional magazine taped to it and running into the crowd before turning himself in to the police.
Thumbs Up Photo
Shortly after his arrest, social media users shared images of Fernandez flashing a 'thumbs up' sign to the police before surrendering himself.
"So the dude that drove behind a group of protesters in Seattle at high speed, stopped and shot a black guy that was trying to stop HIM from driving into the crowd, then casually walks towards the cops giving them a thumbs up with his hand ON THE PISTOL HE JUST SHOT SOMEONE WITH?," wrote a Twitter user.
Seattle Police 'Protected' Him
Some users even shared video clips of Fernandez's arrest and found it suspicious that the Seattle police peacefully arrested a gun-wielding man who just ran his car into a crowd of protesters and shot someone without any use of force or restraint and looked like they were trying to "protect" him.
"Spent all week looking at footage of cops beating the shit out of protesters & spraying them with pepper spray for protesting. Here's how Seattle police responded to a guy who drove his car into a crowd of protesters and ran into the crowd with a gun," a user captioned the video clip of Fernandez's arrest.
It was later revealed that Fernandez's brother worked at the East Precinct at 12th Ave. and Pine Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
"Not only do they calmly watch him approach, they don't attack, but turn their backs to him & are facing AWAY from him as if to protect him from the crowd," pointed out one user. "He seems happy to see them."
"The thumbs up and peaceful surrender are suspect. But for the cops to allow him to approach while still armed after they just saw him shoot someone? Something about the Seattle shooter story stinks like rotten bacon. Prob "undercover" cop," commented another.
Instagram Wiped Clean
Users pushing the theory that Fernandez is an undercover police officer also noted that all of his Instagram posts had been deleted shortly after users identified him and shared images of his profile. However, Fernandez was supposed to be in police custody at the time.
"If you'll remember, we discovered that Nikolas's instagram was being scrubbed last night at 10:42pm.... While Nikolas was supposed to be in custody. This begs some pretty significant questions," tweeted a user.
Charged with First-Degree Assault
However, while speculation continues to mount over Fernandez's role in the incident, he has been charged with assault of the first degree.
During a court virtual court hearing on Monday, King County Department of Public Defense attorney Jesse Dubow argued that Fernandez was on his way to work at the Nike store downtown, where he'd been "recently" hired "to provide security," and got "caught going the wrong way down a one-way street."
He said Fernandez feared for his life and thought protesters were trying to jack his car when he fired his weapon. Judge Anne Harper noted that Fernandez is lucky the case is "just an assault, and not a death."
She originally set bail at $200,000, but modified that down to $150,000 after leniency was pleaded on the bail amount.