News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood

 

Attack thwarted at Gasworks today

September 2nd, 2017 by sarawilly

From our friends at Safe Seattle:

Safe Seattle community member Bob MacDonald writes that he witnessed and intervened in an attack on a woman in Gasworks Park this morning, at about 8 AM. This incident has been reported to the Seattle Police Department.

MacDonald saw a young woman entering the grassy area on the west side of the park from Northlake Way. She was walking through the area when she was accosted by a shirtless and shoeless man who was acting erratically, as if he were under the influence of drugs. As MacDonald says:

“I was about 20 yards away when I first began observing this incident. The attacker appeared to be trying to steal the woman’s backpack. When she wouldn’t let go, he pulled her closer and then grabbed her around the waist with both arms and tackled her to the ground. He then pinned her down and threatened her with some kind of object or weapon. I couldn’t see what it was.

At this point an employee of a rental bike company who’d been loading bikes onto a truck approached me and asked if anyone was going to call 911. He said, ‘I don’t think they know each other.’ Then he left.

I called 911 and continued to observe. A man from the Parks Department drove a white pickup truck out to the middle of the grassy area where the attacker and victim were struggling, and this caused the attacker to break off and confront the Parks guy, who had gotten out of his truck. I think the craziness of the assailant took the Parks guy off guard because he retreated back into his truck and left.

The attacker then went back to the victim and began shouting at her, swinging the backpack he was carrying and grabbing at her. He did this for about five minutes while I followed and talked to 911. He physically attacked her again in the grassy area to the east of the parking lot and I intervened and drew him away. A couple witnesses shouted for her to run and find some people to be around, but instead she went east out of the park and followed the trail along Northlake Way where it leads into some overgrown brush.

The attacker followed her back in there, and I didn’t want to pursue him at first because of the chance he’d corner me. But the 911 dispatcher told me the police were still two minutes away, and I didn’t want to let the victim out of my sight, so I decided to go down that path after them. When I found them, the attacker had the woman on the ground, just out of sight of the road. And now he was actually hitting her in the head. She started screaming as I approached. When I was about five feet away, the attacker noticed me and jumped up and came at me, trying to threaten me. I stepped around him and got between them and told the woman to go back into the park and find some people to help, which she did. The last time I saw her, she was running over the grassy hills to the east of the parking lot headed back into Gasworks Park.

I turned and left the brushy area and the attacker followed me out into the roadway (Northlake), threatening to fight me. I don’t think he really wanted to fight someone who would fight back, because at one point I almost threw a punch at him and I think he knew it. I said something like, “She’s gone now, dude; it’s over,” and he realized I was right and just turned around and walked east on Northlake.

He sat down on the curb next to the street and a University cop pulled up and walked over to him. The suspect immediately launched himself at the cop. They struggled briefly and the attacker broke free and fled. The cop caught up with him within one block. The cop deployed his Taser, but it failed. The cop then grabbed him and got him down and at that moment two other University police cars showed up and it took all three cops to get this guy subdued. SPD arrived within minutes and the man was arrested.”

Photo courtesy of Bob MacDonald

According to MacDonald, the victim left the scene and was being sought by police for questioning. MacDonald reported that he had heard she was located a few blocks away.

The Parks Department employee who intervened left the scene in his truck, and was being sought by police for additional details.

This incident happened in broad daylight at a popular Seattle park. MacDonald told me that several people witnessed the attack at various times during the 10 minutes it was ongoing. He counted six people standing and watching at one point, and he estimated that 20 people in total saw what happened, or parts of what happened. Besides those two individuals and the single Parks Department employee, who intervened briefly and then left the scene, no one else intervened. MacDonald told us that if just one other person had stepped up with him to confront the attacker, the outcome would have been very different.

 

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After the UW Threat, Citizens Question What it Means to Be Alert

November 4th, 2014 by master

When stories in the news about threats and scary happenings get too close to home, it’s hard not to feel an emotional response.

"With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character" from The Illustrated London News, 13 October 1888

In our schools and public places, we wonder what we can do to be alert and aware without giving into paranoia and fear? With so many more high-profile violence cases in the news these days what should we do to be more prepared?

Since it’s hard to definitively define what a real threat is, it makes it hard to know when to report something as suspicious activity or not. These days threats can come by email, text, forums, craigslist and more. People often question whether or not something is an actual threat or not, or if they do see something that seems out of the ordinary, scary or threatening, they don’t know what to do?

On the SafeCampus website it states:

If you see behavior that makes you or others concerned, report the behavior to SafeCampus by calling 206-685-SAFE (206-685-7233). Behaviors of concern could signal someone is in distress or may be prohibited behaviors as defined by UW policy. Remember to always call 911 if you need assistance from police, fire, or emergency medical personnel.
The bottom line is that it is great to be aware of your surroundings, be mindful of what’s going on and think about safety, but don’t live in fear.

Even though law enforcement can never be 100% successful in preventing tragedies like the one in Marysville, they are getting better at assessing and de-fusing threats.

The SPD lists what suspicious activity may look like, and if you have any information or see anything out of the ordinary please contact law enforcement as soon as possible by dialing 911.

Luckily, the suspect in the most recent threat to UW campus has been arrested. We can only hope that future threats are dealt with as successfully.

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Crime prevention coordinators face layoffs

October 19th, 2010 by master

Unless the budget changes, three of the seven crime prevention coordinators in Seattle will lose their jobs. As for the remaining four coordinators, including the one serving the U-District, no one is sure if they’ll be forced to cut back on their hours or cover larger areas to fill the holes.

Crime prevention coordinators, civilian employees in the Seattle Police Department, work directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door to door to warn about recent crimes. They’d been part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions then became paid for with federal grant money that runs out in the spring.

With the help of the nonprofit Common Language Project and communications students at the University of Washington, we take a closer look at what the loss of these coordinators could mean to our neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Crime Prevention Coordinators Face the Budget Axe”.

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Inside look at Seattle Police training methods

September 22nd, 2010 by master

In the wake of the deadly officer involved shooting of a wood carver last month, many in the community questioned the training methods of the Seattle Police Department. Today, SPD invited UDistrictDaily and other media outlets to get a behind the scenes look at some new training techniques being put in place along with methods currently being used.

“We did talk about deploying more tasers– using less lethal force options,” said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb.


Officer demonstrates taser techniques

Not all Seattle Police officers carry tasers, but one new step involves arming more officers with the devices. This year, SPD says taser use has actually dropped to an average of 7 incidents a month. They credit the decrease to more people knowing about tasers and the impact they can have on the human body.

“We talk people into custody the vast amount of the time,” said Officer Chris Myers.

Another new program that is already underway requires every member of SPD to take a racial profiling course, with the goal of changing the culture in the department. Verbal judo, the use of words insteads of hands and weapons, is also being taught along with an increased emphasis on deploying crisis intervention team officers to deal with people who may have mental or medical issues.

SPD allowed the media to try out its “shoot or don’t shoot” simulator that puts officers through different scenarios. Officers also go through tactics training in real-time mock situations. After the simulations, instructors debrief the officers to find out why they reacted the way they did.



Another reporter tries out the simulator (above)

“Training has become a significant issue,” said Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer. “Every single day we’re on the job we learn something.”

Deputy Chief Kimerer will oversee a review starting next month into the fatal shooting of wood carver John T. Williams. Officials did not take questions on the specifics of the Williams case since it is still under investigation.  Our newspaper partner the Seattle Times reports the U.S. Justice Department is now monitoring the case.

Summary of additions to SPD training:

  1. Putting more tasers into the hands of officers
  2. Racial profiling course
  3. Verbal judo
  4. Adding more members to the crisis intervention team

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A tale of parking abuse in the U-District

August 26th, 2010 by master

Our partners at the Seattle Times have an interesting story today about one parking enforcement officer’s mission to catch an elusive driver in the U-District.  The man had a disability placard that didn’t match his plates.  But the officer needed to actually catch him behind the wheel in order to cite him.  After four months of staking him out while he parked for free, the payoff finally came.  Read the full story here.

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Seattle Police host North Precinct picnic

July 8th, 2010 by master

SPD’s North Precinct at 10049 College Way North will be hosting a picnic this Saturday (7/10) from 1pm to 4pm to celebrate community, give you a chance to meet your local officers, and offer a precinct tour. There will be food, activities, and entertainment including many things to keep the kids happy. This is an annual free event hosted by the Seattle Police Foundation.

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U-District could lose crime prevention coordinator

June 30th, 2010 by master

The people who work directly with our neighborhood in preventing crime could soon be out of a job.  The six civilian crime prevention coordinators for the Seattle Police Department, including North Precinct coordinators Diane Horswill and Neil Hansen, have been told they’ll lose their jobs next spring when grant money runs out. 

Diane Horswill and Neil Hansen.

The crime prevention coordinators work directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door to door to warn about recent crimes.  They’ve been part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions then became paid for with federal grant money.  That ends on March 31 of next year.

“We are the link between the community and the police department,” said crime prevention coordinator Terrie Johnston from the west precinct.  “Patrol officers are often promoted or transfer out.  We’re the ones in people’s living rooms and churches.”

Johnston and her fellow coordinators have logged hundreds of community meetings over the past year.  She worries that officers and precinct bosses won’t be able to give residents one on one attention if the crime prevention coordinators are let go.

“When we’re gone, who will take the time?”

Councilmember Tim Burgess, who chairs the Public Safety and Education committee, tells us his office is closely tracking the issue as it heads toward the mayor and council.  If you’d like to voice your opinions, here’s a link to the mayor and City Council.

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