CHS found Chief O’Toole on Broadway on one of the first nights of this year’s increased policing in Pike/Pine (Images: CHS)
Seattle Police and the Department of Justice are holding up indictments on weapons charges against two men arrested on Capitol Hill as further proof that emphasis patrols in Pike/Pine have been effective in deterring violence and getting guns off the street.
“I meet regularly with Capitol Hill residents and business owners and we’ve talked at length about their crime and quality of life issues,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says in a statement provided by the US Attorney’s office. “These cases demonstrate that we’re listening carefully and working with our Federal partners to address their concerns.”
Facing the federal weapons charges are Robel Gebremedhiu, 31, and Awad Aynisher, 30. The men were arrested in separate incidents this fall on Capitol Hill.
The US Attorney says both of the indicted men have been connected to a gang known as the East African Posse:
In the prior criminal cases, both defendants admitted distributing drugs as part of a gang known as the East African Posse (EAP). Both have been in federal custody for violating the terms of their court-ordered supervision and will be arraigned on these new indictments next week.
Both defendants recently served “lengthy” federal prison sentences and were on federal supervision at the time of their arrests, according to the statement.
The indictments also provide some frightening, hopefully unusual examples of the kinds of armaments being packed around the neighborhood. Aynisher was arrested in October after police say a security guard at the Broadway and Pike gas station alerted them to a reckless driver:
The officers observed that the driver appeared to have difficulty standing. When the driver, AYNISHER, returned to his car, he backed up, hitting another car in the lot. Officers asked AYNISHER to get out of the car, screened him, and arrested him for driving under the influence. The car was impounded and officers saw in plain view a loaded semi-automatic 9mm handgun on the floor of the driver’s seat. The officers obtained a warrant, searched the car and found a second firearm – a Cobray M-11 9mm semi-automatic (Uzi type) pistol — in the trunk.
Gebremedhiu was busted a week earlier in an episode reported here by CHS after an armed man was seen by clubgoers running down the street near Broadway and E. Union just before 2 AM.
The announcement of the indictments comes after a November 28th protest march for Ferguson that also targeted Pike/Pine businesses:
The protest crowd stopped at 10th and Pike to rally where “Lost Lake, Cafe Vita, Comet Tavern & Neumos profile Somali Youth,” one journalist reported on Twitter.
The Seattle Times also featured a column last week by the same writer about “tension on Capitol Hill” over the targeting of young East African males by police. In September, CHS printed a letter from the ownership of Lost Lake claiming that a group of young Somali males were “terrorizing” the neighborhood. The complaint helped spark an East Precinct crackdown in the area after a late summer surge in street crime. Representatives say Somali and East African communities were unfairly targeted in the push for increased policing.
Lost Lake is a CHS advertiser.
According to the US Attorney’s statement, the penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is ten years in prison. Both men will have the opportunity to enter pleas at next week’s arraignments.