As police officials have said they plan to continue increased patrols in the area following a call from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce for more SPD presence on the streets of Pike/Pine, a prominent Capitol Hill business owner has sent a letter about “gang activity” on Capitol Hill to Mayor Ed Murray, city officials, local business owners, and local media outlets including CHS.
“I’m writing to plead with you Mr Mayor, that something be done about the gang (usually described as Somali) that is ever present on Capitol Hill,” says Neumos and Lost Lake partner Jason Lajeunesse about what he says have been two years of harassment and violence in Pike/Pine.
Dear Mr Mayor, I’m writing this email on behalf of the capitol hill neighborhood, local business owners, my friends who have been jumped, my patrons who are threatened and abused, my employees who have been assaulted, the residents and the women of the neighborhood who are being harassed and threatened daily.
I’m writing to plead with you Mr Mayor, that something be done about the gang (usually described as Somali) that is ever present on Capitol Hill. It’s disheartening to me that these guys have been terrorizing our neighborhood for well over a year, maybe 2 years and this CONTINUES to go on. SOMONE IS GOING TO GET RAPED OR KILLED and SPD AND MAYORS OFFICE WILL BE TO BLAME.
Incidents have been exploding lately, day and night. We just had an assault INSIDE the restaurant (Lost Lake) on Saturday, AT BRUNCH? This is just ONE of many many many incidents. Below is a text from a concerned friend, neighbor, business owner who reached out to me today about an incident LAST NIGHT.
I don’t know who all should be on this thread, but I’ve cc’d people I know have a vested interest in this community.
We should be very afraid for the safety of those we care about, our neighbors and those who continue to be victimized at this point. It’s only getting worse. It’s clear that these guys have no fear of reprimand. It’s clear they see mayor’s office and spd standing by doing nothing as they terrorize our neighborhood.
Mr. Mayor, How long are you going to let this persist? What is the plan of action? Is there a plan of action? How can we help you help us?
Jason Lajeunesse, concerned neighbor.
(CHS has removed first names from the image included in the letter)
Lajeunesse also produces the annual Capitol Hill Block Party, the music festival that takes over blocks of E Pike every summer.
We’re looking into the Saturday incident Lajeunesse references in his email. On Friday, a 25-year-old man was arrested for assault and suspected drug crimes after a disturbance at Lost Lake Cafe.
Just before 5 PM, staff called to police to report a man who “would not leave” the 10th Ave restaurant. According to the SPD report on the assault, the suspect and another male were sitting in the back of Lost Lake “causing a disturbance” and being “verbally aggressive” with staff and had pushed an employee “in the face.” The suspect who allegedly pushed the employee was taken into custody. Inside the holding cell at the East Precinct, according to the report, the suspect could be seen on surveillance video removing a small baggie from his underwear and tossing it on the cell floor. Police say the packet weighed in at 0.2 grams of methamphetamine. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for investigation
of assault and drug possession. UPDATE: The suspect ended up only being booked for the drugs and was released from jail Saturday night. We’ll follow up to find out if he’ll face charges for the meth. UPDATE x2: The suspect has a lengthy criminal record including his 2013 guilty plea for being a felon in possession of a firearm:
Lajeunesse tells CHS that he believes foot patrols in Pike/Pine “need to happen” —
The restaurant, bar and entertainment community along with the retail and developers pay significant city b and o taxes. The city needs to use some of those resources to increase police presence on capitol hill. They make money from all of this growth, and they need to protect it. The East precinct in understaffed and under funded.
But the business owner said he doesn’t believe foot patrols alone will enough to battle what he calls “organized crime” going on in the area. “They should treat it as such, and with a sense of urgency,” he writes.
Earlier this month CHS reported that August had tallied more reported Capitol Hill robberies than any other month in SPD’s records as. Injuries have been mostly limited to scratches and bruises but one victim was nearly killed early in the month when he was grazed by a gunshot during one botched robbery attempt in Cal Anderson. Last week, thieves threatened to shoot a DJ as they robbed the victim of more than $3,000 in gear outside The Odd Fellows building.
In addition to the annual street crime concerns, there have been growing calls for more to be done about anti-LGTBQ violence and assaults as the melting pot that is Capitol Hill nightlife continues to grow.
UPDATE: SPD reports that patrols have been “stepped up” as detectives are investigating groups believed to have been involved with 22 street robberies on Capitol Hill:
SPD has stepped up patrols around Capitol Hill as detectives search for suspects in a string of nearly two dozen robberies around the Pike/Pine area.
Police believe two or three groups of suspects have been targeting nightlife patrons near Broadway and Pike and around Cal Anderson Park in 22 different robberies. The string of robberies began around August 9th, and have occurred between 11:30 PM and 4 AM, primarily between the hours of midnight and 2 AM. In many of the cases, suspects stole cellphones and wallets from their victims, sometimes after attacking them or holding them at gunpoint. Detectives don’t currently believe the groups are working together.
Many victims have struggled to provide police with a clear description of their assailants, as the suspects often strike quickly and outside of well-traveled areas. However, police are investigating a possible connection between a recent arrest and the string of robberies, and are working with prosecutors on the case. We’ll provide more details on that case as it develops.
SPD Robbery Detectives are asking anyone who may have witnessed a robbery in the Capitol Hill area—or anyone with video or photos that could help police identify suspects—to contact the SPD Robbery Unit at (206) 684-5535.
East Precinct commanders will be meeting with Capitol Hill Business Association and working with businesses and residents around Capitol Hill as detectives continue to investigate.
As detectives search for these suspects, please remember to be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, update your smartphone’s software to allow you to lock it down or track it if it’s stolen, and always call 911 if you see anything suspicious.
While the emphasis patrols will be welcomed, they seem to come too late as another late summer crime wave has passed through the neighborhood. Many of the perpetrators are minors including the suspect arrested after the Cal Anderson shooting. A teen allegedly attempting to flee from police in that August 1st hold-up was caught with a phone and wallet belonging to the victim. The teen suspect attempted to flee but slipped and fell as police moved in and found the gun in bushes. Charged with first degree robbery, the suspect turned 18 this week.
With public schools beginning their years on Wednesday and more typical Seattle weather — ie, rain — becoming more common, crime on Capitol Hill will likely face a few suppressants beyond the local police force’s efforts.
UPDATE: SPD’s precinct front desks will again be staffed 24 hours a day. In a message on Twitter, the department’s spokesperson said new Chief O’Toole “believes it’s a priority to have the precincts open and accessible to the public.”