An armed man was fatally shot early today during a confrontation with police after he hurled incendiary devices at a Washington state immigration detention centre.
The shooting occurred about 4am local time outside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Northwest Detention Center, where the gunman attempted to set the building and parked cars on fire, according to police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.
Police said the man set a vehicle ablaze in the centre's parking lot and attempted to ignite a propane tank with a flare to set the building on fire.
Officers called out to the man and shots were fired, according to a police statement. It's not known whether the man fired on the officers, Ms Cool said.
The gunman died at the scene and four officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave per department policy. The incident is under investigation.
Authorities did not immediately identify the gunman, saying in the statement the 'medical examiner will release the identity of the victim when it is appropriate'.
The assault on the privately-run immigrant detention facility came amid protests over ICE plans to begin the previously postponed raids across the country tomorrow.
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The goal is the arrest of thousands of migrant families who already have court orders to be removed, according to US officials.
A peaceful rally against the raids at the Tacoma detention centre had ended about six hours before the shooting, Ms Cool said.
The immigration enforcement action has sparked protests in nearly a dozen American cities, drawn criticism from mayors and immigrant rights advocates, and unleashed waves of fear among undocumented immigrants across the country.
The motive behind the armed man's pre-dawn attack in unclear, Ms Cool said.
The Tacoma facility, which holds nearly 1500 detainees, has been the scene of more than a dozen hunger strikes in recent years – each involving from a dozen to hundreds of detainees, over complaints of inadequate food and medical care, among other issues.
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