Update: Man held for threats against Kitsap County officials

Richard Olan Watson, who was arrested Thursday for threatening the Kitsap County Commissioners, displays examples of toxic materials he was allegedly forced to use as a Kitsap County employee in 2008. - Charlie Bermant
Richard Olan Watson, who was arrested Thursday for threatening the Kitsap County Commissioners, displays examples of toxic materials he was allegedly forced to use as a Kitsap County employee in 2008.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

An East Bremerton man is being held in Kitsap County Jail on a charge of harassment, a gross misdemeanor, after issuing threats against Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown and other county staff members.

Richard Olan Watson, 49, called the Sheriff's Office in Port Orchard on Jan. 21 requesting a permit that would allow him to harm members of the county administration.

The officer taking the report made Watson believe the permits would be granted and made arrangements to meet at Watson’s residence, where the arrest occurred.

Watson is being held on $50,000 bail and could be released if he is able to post that amount.

Aside from the charge, he also faces a restraining order restricting his access to county property as well as prohibiting contact with Brown or Kitsap County Risk Manager Mark Abernathy.

Watson also must surrender any guns in his possession, although he claims that he sold the firearm that was registered in his name.

“He will be required to prove that he no longer owns the firearm if he is released,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Claire Bradley. “That will be difficult to do while he is in custody.”

Watson’s trial date is scheduled for Feb. 19, at which point he faces a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Watson’s defense is contracted to the Wecker Hunko law firm in Port Orchard.

Attorney Steve McMurdo declined comment on all aspects of the case, including whether Watson has received any mental treatment, whether he is in the general prison population or the nature of his defense.

Bradley said she recommended a mental evaluation for Watson but did not know whether it had taken place.

Watson became familiar to county staff in 2009, when he visited several departments stating his intention to file a damage claim against the county having to do with an allergic reaction to cleaning chemicals he said he was forced to use while working as a janitor in June 2008.

Watson spoke during the public comment section of the Jan. 12 commissioners’ meeting, saying that the county had forced him to use dangerous materials and that it should take responsibility for that action.

After the meeting, Watson spoke about the case, saying that he wanted only to get “a fair settlement from the county, and then I will go away and leave them alone.”

Asked what that settlement would be, he responded, “I think the commissioners will be surprised how ungreedy I am. I will be fair. I am already wealthy. I have made a lot of money in the stock market and real estate.”

Watson said he knew immediately that the compound was dangerous because of a skull and crossbones on its label.

He said felt an immediate ill effect and told his supervisor about the allergic reaction, but was told, “That’s what we use around here.”

Watson said he only worked a few days but was forced to quit the job when his headaches became too severe.

He said he had no explanation why other workers who were using the same compound showed no systems, and he never filed a formal damage claim.

“I was working for a while, but they had to let me go because I couldn’t keep it together,” he said.

At the time, Watson carried several documents that supposedly proved his mental veracity and samples of what he said were toxic chemicals.

Information Services Director Bud Harris then requested the newspaper not print a story about Watson, saying that it would give his accusations credibility.

Harris disclosed that Kitsap County deputies had attended the meeting were doing so because the office had received advance notice of Watson's appearance.

After the meeting, County Admistrator Nancy Buonanno Grennan said the staff was aware of Watson and his alleged mental condition but declined to comment because, “He may have a legitimate grievance.”

After appearing at the Jan. 12 meeting, he visited the county Administration Building several times but did not cause an incident.

Prior to his arrest, Watson told a Sheriff’s Office staff member he wanted a permit that would “allow him to poison these people as they slept and then shove their teeth down their throats.”

Watson also reportedly told a lieutenant he wanted to “hit Commissioner Josh Brown until he was unconscious,” but he could be dissuaded if his claim was accepted.

Brown identified the threat as “serious” in the restraining order, but later said that he did not feel directly threatened.

“I had no personal contact with him so I did not feel any real danger,” Brown said. “But his threats against the staff needed to be taken seriously, because it is unacceptable for them to feel unsafe when they are attempting to do their jobs.”

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