TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING – Tusitala ‘Tiny’ ToeseA leader of the Portland Proud Boys was shot in the foot during an anti-COVID protest in Olympia, Washington, social media reports show.
Live-streamers covering the protest against COVID-19 mandates near Washington’s state capitol showed Tusitala “Tiny” Toese bleeding from the ankle after five gunshots rang out in the mid-afternoon hours of Saturday, Sept. 4.
Local police taped off the scene at the Intercity Transit mall on State Avenue Northeast near Franklin Street, according to the footage, and medical personnel also responded.
Tiny of the #ProudBoys has been shot here in Olympia, Washington. The shooting took place .8 miles away from the state Capitol, after Proud Boys pursued #Antifa Black Bloc- who showed up within a square block of a Medical Freedom protest. pic.twitter.com/QMZxFasWRJ— Jeremy Lee Quinn (@JLeeQuinn) September 4, 2021
It wasn’t immediately unclear who fired the shots that struck Toese, though the right-wing Proud Boys had been pursuing a group usually called antifa, a left-wing movement, in the minutes before the shooting.
In a statement on Sept. 5, city officials in Olympia confirmed that it was a member of the opposing group that “produced a handgun” and opened fire, striking Toese, though the statement doesn’t identify him by name.
The shooting happened after a “verbal altercation escalated into pushing and shoving” between the left- and right-wing groups, according to the statement.
“I know the community shares my frustration with the behaviors, the violence and the ugliness that took place on our streets yesterday. It’s not what any of us want in our community,” said Olympia City Manager Jay Burney. “Our work together to make Olympia a safe and welcoming place for all people is ongoing, and yesterday’s incident shows us just how much further we have to go to get there.”
Toese is cooperating with authorities and his injury is not life-threatening, per the statement.
Earlier in the day, Alissa Azar, a self-described gonzo journalist aligned with the anti-fascist movement, said she was physically attacked and maced by Proud Boy members. Much of the incident wasn’t captured on camera but a video shows several right-wingers dressed for combat calling out her name and then the sound of a woman screaming.
The statement says it has seen social media reports regarding a downtown assault but that the local police department hasn’t been contacted by the victim, who isn’t identified by name.
Toese, who stands six-feet-three-inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, has been a regular organizer of Proud Boys events in the Portland area and is known to openly participate in street brawls, including the rally that turned into a violent clash near a shuttered Kmart in east Portland on Aug. 22.
Toese was formerly known to be a top lieutenant of Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, but that group has been less active in Oregon as Gibson faces a potential felony riot conviction.
The Vancouver, Washington resident was recently let off of probation after serving time in jail for a 2018 assault.
This article has been updated on Sept. 5 with information released by the city of Olympia.