SPD, DOJ announce indictments from arrests made during Pike/Pine crackdown

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.

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16 thoughts on “SPD, DOJ announce indictments from arrests made during Pike/Pine crackdown

    • For sure. But first they have to be convicted…..shouldn’t be a problem….and then serve a long time in our prisons. If they were just deported immediately, there would probably be no accountability for their crimes.

      • It’s probably way nicer to sit in American prision than living in Somalia!
        Besides, they both are used to it, it said they both just served ‘lengthy prison sentence’ already.
        The system seams to work great!

  1. The visual police presence on Friday and Saturday nights in the entertainment core is definitely greater than it was several months ago.

    It makes me wonder if the criminals are being displaced as enforcement focus on hot spots. It was Cal Anderson, then the Pike/Pine/Broadway areas. Now a rash on 15th Ave.

    I know police can’t be everywhere but I hope something can be done to blanket stamp out the criminal activity.

  2. Pingback: Running Journal~Day 3 | Uncommon Grounds

    • Where did you read automatic weapons??? Semi automatic uzi type it only means that the guns looks like an uzi but it still is a semi automatic and if there is confusion on that means it means you have to pull a trigger each time you fire. Lets not start rumors of automatic weapons.. If they did have those it would be a major ATF case and there would be some serious RICO charges and national news coverage….

    • Until one of these “hands up / don’t shoot” clowns gets a gun pointed at them by a gang member (10x more likely to happen than a cop) it’s unlikely any apologies will be handed out.

  3. It would be informative to know whether either or both of these men are US Citizens, or whether they’re here on green cards. Besides the 10-yr penalty for being a felon in possession of a gun, seems like deportation *should* be an option for someone holding a green card. Anyone know if it is? And while we’re at it….if someone IS a green card holder, why wouldn’t they have been deported after the 1st prison term? Maybe the Feds figure they’d just slip back in?

  4. So it seems the business owners were correct and the protesters merely playing the victim card and ignoring the facts. Just because someone reports young Somalis are terrorizing the streets doesn’t mean all young Somalis are criminals. It means a group of young Somalis are terrorizing the streets and should be sought. Period. Duh.

  5. Check it out: the exact same story involving the exact same perps ran eight years ago – proving most violent gangsters are hopeless, and deserve to be deported or rot in prison. It’s amazing how easy it is for these creeps to cause havoc and threaten innocent people in “tolerant” Seattle. If there weren’t so many naive people apologizing for these thugs, I bet they would spend a LOT less time terrorizing our friends and neighbors.
    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Six face federal drug, firearms charges

    Six members of an East African gang operating in Seattle’s University District are facing federal drug-trafficking and firearms charges after the latest in a series of arrests that have netted drugs, cash and weapons.

    More arrests are expected as federal agents and Seattle police continue their investigation of a gang known as the East African Posse, Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said at a news conference Monday.

    During the arrest of four of the six men that took place last week, officers also seized two vehicles, $70,000 cash, 800 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $56,000 and three weapons — two handguns and an SKS assault rifle with a folding bayonet.

    “The results are as good as they get,” Kerlikowske said, referring to the months-long investigation conducted by the Violent Gang Task Force, a multi-agency group led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with members from the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. “More will flow from this.”

    Last year, police officials held dozens of meetings with University District business owners and residents who complained about drug dealing and frequent gunfire in the area. The visibility and violence of gang members in the neighborhood intimidated citizens, Kerlikowske said.


  6. Pingback: Pike/Pine businesses call for more ‘officers on foot and bikes’ now to head off summer crime woes | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle