Bail Set at $50,000 for Man Accused of Shooting at Protest Near Capitol


Thurston County Superior Court set bail at $50,000 Monday for a 25-year-old Bellingham man who allegedly shot a person during a Saturday protest near the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

State Patrol troopers arrested Forest M. Machala Saturday on suspicion of first-degree assault while armed with a firearm, according to court documents. Machala reportedly attended an event where supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with black-clad, anti-fascist counter protesters.

The shooting occurred at 2:02 p.m. near the intersection of 15th Avenue Southwest and Columbia Street and left a 20-year-old man with serious injuries that required surgery at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

Commissioner Pro Tem Charles Houser established probable cause and set the bail at an amount less than the $75,000 as requested by the prosecution since Machala has no prior criminal history and the investigation is still ongoing.

"So, the facts as we have them in the affidavit are what we know, but I know that the investigation is ongoing, and they're receiving information as we speak about different events taking place," said deputy prosecuting attorney Scott Jackson.

If released, Machala will have to surrender his weapons and reside at a Bellingham residence. Additionally, the court barred him from contacting the man who was shot.

His private attorney, William Kirk, argued Machala has been a law-abiding, life-long resident of Western Washington. He said Machala would be willing to surrender his weapons, including an additional one at his Bellingham home.

"We do believe that when the State Patrol gets to the bottom of this, we will probably find out that this was a self-defense shooting," Kirk said.

An affidavit of probable cause from the prosecution outlines the account of a state trooper who responded to the protest. Investigators found and received several videos reportedly showing the moment a gun was discharged in the area, the document read.

The first video reportedly shows people dressed in black, a look commonly associated with anti-fascists, followed by the sound of a gunshot. The shooter, who investigators identified as Machala, is reportedly present in the video standing on higher ground and separated from the people below by brush and shrubbery.

A second video reportedly shows the man who was shot fall to the ground and Machala holding a black handgun. The trooper wrote that people in the video sought cover after the gunshot and then yelled for a medic while calling out Machala for injuring someone.

Another video shows Machala holster his pistol and run from the area. Investigators also have an unidentified person on video shooting a handgun in the direction away from the victim before turning back in the direction of the victim.

Authorities have not identified a victim from the second shooting, court documents read.

The trooper wrote that a witness followed Machala and pointed him out to State Patrol detectives. Machala reportedly entered a vehicle in the area of Columbia Street Southwest and Union Avenue, but a State Patrol SWAT team apprehended him.

At the time of the arrest, Machala reportedly carried a Glock 9mm handgun in a holster on his waist. The gun had a bullet in the chamber and the magazine carried seven additional gold-colored bullets, the trooper wrote. He also carried a second magazine with a full 10 bullets.

On-scene investigators found a blood trail in the grass which led to a pool of blood on the road. Someone had attempted to treat the victim and transported him to Providence St. Peter Hospital, the document read.

Doctors at the hospital reportedly told State Patrol detectives that the victim suffered a single gunshot wound in the abdomen that had entered his back and passed completely through his torso, according to court documents. The injury required several hours of surgery.

Investigators also located an unfired 9mm bullet at the scene that matched the gold color of the bullets found on Machala. They also found a spent .380 caliber casing that was likely discharged from the second weapon at the scene rather than Machala's weapon.

Machala is due back in court Dec. 29 for his arraignment and State Patrol is still looking for at least one additional witness.

State patrol previously reported that Machala lived in Shoreline but court documents indicate he has lived in Bellingham for five years.


(c)2020 The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.)

Visit The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.