The Tacoma detention center is owned and operated for ICE by a private company called the GEO Group, according to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which puts the facility's capacity at 1,575 - one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the country, the group says. The jail has furthermore held immigration-attempting for fogeys separated from their children beneath President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" protection, an effort meant to deter illegal immigration.
The shooting took place about six hours after a peaceful rally in front of the detention centre, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.
Deb Bartley, who said she was a longtime friend of Van Spronsen's, told the Seattle Times that she believes he attacked the detention center on Saturday intending to die.
Police said a vehicle caught fire and that the man attempted to ignite a large propane tank and set buildings on fire. Police initially called out to the man and then shots were fired. It turned into no longer clear how many shots were fired or whether or no longer the man fired at police.
Van Spronsen was arrested previous year for assaulting a police officer during a protest outside the same detention center, according to court records.
Court documents cited by local media outlets said he wrapped his arms around the officer's neck and shoulders, as the officer was trying to detain another protester.
After the gunfire, officers took cover, contained the area and set up medical aid a short distance away, police said.
Detectives and forensics were processing the scene Saturday morning; the man's name has not been released.
An investigation into the incident has been launched and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
Investigators have yet to disclose any information regarding the motives or background of the man involved.
A police official said it could not yet be confirmed who was responsible for his death.
"He was ready to end it", Bartley said. Seattle is not among the cities reportedly being targeted.
"They were not told that visits would not happen, were not told that the accident happened in the early morning".
GEO Group, a private correctional institutions company that owns the facility Van Spronsen attacked in Tacoma, told The Associated Press that accusations made against its facilities "have led to misplaced aggression and a risky environment for our employees, whose safety is our top priority".
"Violence of any kind against our employees and property will not be tolerated", the statement continued.
GEO Crew acknowledged the prison in Tacoma has aloof amenities with air-con, recreational activities, a mattress for every particular person and sanatorium remedy accessible at all hours.
In November, a Russian asylum-seeker who conducted a hunger strike to protest the conditions at the detention center died by suicide, the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office ruled.
The center is privately operated by GEO Group Inc on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).