Justin Jasper had a carload of guns, body armor and explosives when he was arrested this week near Washington University in Seattle. And he apparently had a plan: Do something in the West to support protestors demanding reform in Brazil.
People who knew the quiet 21-year-old had no idea what he was plotting. But Jasper was never the type to speak his mind.
Those who knew him in Las Vegas described the young Henderson man as a loner who rarely divulged his personal life, even to those he knew for some time.
Billie Ann Sabala knew Jasper at the Lohan School of Shaolin, a Las Vegas school for Chinese martial arts.
Jasper practiced Kung Fu at the school for more than a year, she said.
“He was a wanderer, a hanger-on. He didn’t have many friends. He didn’t exactly click with anyone at the school,” said Sabala, Lohan’s administrator and a Tai Chi instructor.
Sabala said Jasper suddenly quit taking classes about two years ago and told the staff he was joining the military reserves.
But he returned about a month later, claiming he’d been rejected. She said Jasper had apparently had a falling out with his mother, who had paid for his Kung Fu lessons.
“When he came back he was basically homeless,” she said. “He didn’t have any money and asked if he could stay at the school. I told him no, and said, ‘Go call your mother. She’s worried about you.’”
Sabala said she last heard from Jasper about a year ago, when he said he was leaving to take classes in Reno.
Jasper was arrested Wednesday near the University of Washington in a truck stolen from a truck driver in Butte, Mont. The truck driver reported to authorities Wednesday that he returned from a trip to find his pickup truck missing and guns stolen from his home, said Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich.
Inside the truck, police found a rifle, a shotgun, a machete, several knives and six Molotov cocktails.
Authorities said Jasper also had anti-government materials and detailed maps to the University of Washington, Seattle University and South Seattle Community College. They also found a recording of a podcast that appears to have Jasper expressing support for protesters in Brazil.
More than 1 million demonstrators have taken to the streets in Brazil over the past month to denounce everything from poor public services to the billions of dollars spent preparing for next year’s World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Police found evidence that Jasper was planning some kind of action in support of those protesters, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Hamilton said. Hamilton said that on the podcast, Jasper said he was going to back the “Brazilian revolution” by doing something “somewhere in the Western United States.”
“I’m going to make sure people understand and notice it,” he allegedly said on the podcast.
Jasper had lived with the truck’s owner, Erik Henderson, for the last month, Montana authorities said.
The Seattle Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were called after the bombs were found.
Campus police chief John Vinson said Jasper was not cooperating with police.
“We have no idea what his intentions are,” Vinson said. “This is a very active investigation. We’re trying to rule out everything at this point.”
Vinson said Thursday there did not appear to be any threat to the university campus.
Jasper was booked into King County Jail and made his first court appearance Friday. A judge deemed Jasper a flight risk with “no ties to the community” and set his bail at $2 million.
Sabala said Jasper barely kept his ties to the Lohan School.
At a party at her home shortly before he quit taking lessons, Sabala said Jasper drank too much alcohol and made a fool of himself.
“He puked all over the place. I said, ‘You can’t hold your liquor, so I don’t want you here (at parties) anymore,’” she said. “He was always an outsider. We didn’t like him as much as we tolerated him.”
Norm Chan, owner of Norm’s Egg Cafe on Durango Drive, said Jasper worked for him as a dishwasher last summer.
Jasper asked for a job, and Chan immediately liked him. But Jasper never seemed to enjoy working at the restaurant.
“Once he started working he didn’t seem like a very happy person,” Chan said. “For whatever reason, he was not very social with other people.”
Chan and Jasper bonded over their mutual interests in martial arts. Jasper said he was an instructor.
But one day, Jasper simply was gone.
“He just walked out on me in the middle of the day,” Chan said. “I never saw him again.”
Sabala said she doubted Jasper’s claims that he was a martial arts instructor. She disputes his claim on online resume site LinkedIn, where he said he was a costumed lion dancer at the school.
“You have to be a Kung Fu practitioner to be a lion dancer,” she said. “I think he was training in the lion dance, but he was never good enough to be a performer.”
Court documents identified Jasper’s occupation as a self-employed journalist.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Melissah Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0491. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.