East Precinct’s 2014 picnic: free hot dogs, Hill crime spike concerns and larger questions around policing

Capt. Davis talks with East Precinct picnic attendees (Images: CHS)

Capt. Davis talks with East Precinct picnic attendees (Images: CHS)

IMG_9419Saturday’s annual East Precinct community picnic had a little more going on this year than just hot dogs. Held in Cal Anderson for the first time, the free hot dogs, information booths and chance to check out the bomb squad gear came as local Capitol Hill crime issues have come to a head again this summer and as larger issues around policing have emerged from the Ferguson protests.

East Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis was on hand along with top brass including Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Davis said questions about the militarization of police are worthy of debate but that the Seattle’s police force isn’t being armed by Homeland Security.IMG_9529

Chief O'Toole

Chief O’Toole

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Suspects threaten to shoot E Pine DJ, steal more than $3,000 in gear — UPDATE: Call for more foot patrols

The victim in an overnight hold-up outside the Oddfellows Building was robbed of more than $3,000 in DJ equipment, his music CDs, and cash, according to the SPD report on the incident.

According to the report, the DJ told police he was leaving the E Pine building around 2:30 AM Sunday when he was approached from behind by two suspects who threatened to shoot him and demanded his gear. The victim said he never saw a gun but was afraid and handed over his stuff to the suspects described only as two black males.

The victim told police he then ran to his car and drove home before reporting the crime later in the day.

The hold-up was part of a weekend plagued by a swarm of nighttime street robberies around Capitol Hill’s entertainment core.

UPDATE: In a letter to the mayor’s office obtained by CHS, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce earlier this month called for “dedicated Seattle Police Department foot patrols at the Broadway and Pike intersections on Friday and Saturday evenings.” East Precinct’s commander Capt. Pierre Davis told CHS earlier this month that foot patrols were being increased in Cal Anderson. While the push for foot patrols may help what has become an annual late-summer uptick in street crimes, the base number of officers on patrol in the precinct at any given time is probably even more important. While we have been unsuccessful in getting official numbers from SPD, a person with knowledge of the situation told CHS that a grand total of 12 officers were available to patrol the entirety of the East Precinct on a Friday night earlier this month. UPDATE: A department spokesperson said that night of a dozen officers on patrol in East Precinct isn’t far off a typical night. The spokesperson estimated around 15 officers are on duty at any one time in the area.

The chamber’s letter is below. Continue reading

5 reasons for Capitol Hill’s hate crime ‘spike’

Crosscut is the latest Seattle media outlet to take on hate crime on Capitol Hill:

It turns out he’s not alone. There is strong anecdotal evidence that anti-LGBTQ violence is rising in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s historically gay neighborhood.

The 2,000+ word report grabs what numbers are available – LGBTQ hate-crimes jumped from 6 in 2011 to 19 in 2012, she reports — and documents the most disturbing recent anecdotes like the Neighbours arson case and the Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young murders.

It also focuses on the July 2013 beating of Doug Hamilton on Pike:

Last July, he was walking with two female friends when a stranger, who had repeatedly asked the trio intrusive questions about their sexual orientations, punched him in the chest and underneath the chin.

When Hamilton, a 52-year-old gay man, was knocked to the ground at the corner of Minor and Pike, sustaining a concussion, it was still light outside.

At the time, CHS reported that Hamilton “spotted the perpetrator the next day sleeping in a doorway near the site of the attack.” Crosscut reports Hamilton declined to press charges against the homeless man.

Crosscut’s report searches for causes behind perceived increase and talks with organizers from public safety groups like Social Outreach Seattle. There’s no mention, by the way, of the Q-Patrol-styled Out Watch group’s efforts to keep the neighborhood’s streets safer. SPD officer Sina Ebinger’s work in the community, however, does receive a well-deserved shoutout.

In the end, Crosscut chalks the problem up to the “deweirding” of Capitol Hill.

Weird or not, here is what CHS has seen in covering the neighborhood. Continue reading

Blotter | Another Capitol Hill mugging, SWAT called to 17th/Yesler home

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Harvard/Pike mugging: Only a few hours after our report on a surge of August street robberies around Capitol Hill, a man told police he was mugged by a group of three males near Harvard and Pike early Tuesday morning. According to SPD radio dispatches, it wasn’t clear if the suspect who took off with the victim’s stuff in the 1:45 AM attack grabbed his wallet, his iPhone or both. The victim could only provide a vague suspect description and there were no immediate arrests. Monday, CHS reported that August 2014 was shaping up to have the highest ever monthly total for reported robberies in the East Precinct beats that cover Capitol Hill. Even with the surge, the neighborhood is below 2013′s robbery and mugging pace. Tuesday morning’s mugging marks the 27th robbery reported on Capitol Hill this month.
  • 17th Ave S standoff: Police and SWAT officers surrounded a home near 17th Ave S and Yesler for hours overnight after a young man reportedly posted a picture of himself on Facebook with a gun to his head. Police were called to the area around 1:30 AM after the picture was posted and the 18-year-old’s family was unable to contact him inside his room in the house. A stand-off ensued through the night with police entering the home around 5 AM only to find the man dead inside in an apparent suicide. There were no further details on the incident at this time.
  • Bad drugs around Freeway Park: Sunday night, Seattle Police took the unusual step of warning its officers over East Precinct radio of what was suspected to be a batch of bad drugs causing overdoses around Freeway Park. Three overdoses were reported in the area involving possible symptoms of excited delirium. CHS does not have additional information on the condition of the overdose victims or what kinds of drugs were believed to be involved.

Weekend mugging swarm has August shaping up as Capitol Hill’s most rob-biest month… ever

On a per capita basis, your odds for getting mugged on Capitol Hill probably peaked in the mid-90s but after a small swarm of street robberies around the Hill this weekend, August 2014 appears to be shaping up as the worst month in recent years for robbery in the East Precinct beats covering Capitol Hill.

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This weekend pushed the month over the top with a roster of reports coming in:

  • 8/22 2:52 AM: Two males reportedly hit victim near Broadway Market QFC. Medics were declined. Victim lived nearby.
  • 8/23 1:32 AM: Victim found on sidewalk near Broadway/Pike, suspect last seen fleeing on the Harvard Market stairs. Suspects described only as “group of black males in their 20s.”
  • 8/23 1:55 AM: Report of fist fight at 11/Union turned out to be street robbery. Suspects ran northbound on 11th Ave described as three black males, all wearing beanies and shorts. Two adult male victims suffered head lacerations in the scuffle.
  • 8/23 3 AM: Suspect reportedly stole something from a female victim’s purse. She fell chasing the thief near 13th/Olive St. Her male counterpart told police he thought suspects fled to Cal Anderson. The perpetrator was described only as a “short, white male.”
  • 8/24 10:21 PM: E Pine near Harvard. Caller reported 10 people attempted a strong arm robbery, trying to take wallet out of victim’s hand and threatened him with knife but didn’t show. The group was described only as black males and female teens. The group was last seen leaving the area on Harvard.

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Police: Accused 29/King killer claims slayings ‘vengeance’

Accused killer Ali Muhammad Brown is claiming political motivations for a killing spree that included the Central District slaying of two men he met after a night out on Capitol Hill.

Police say Brown has admitted to the killings as part of a one-man jihad:

“My mission is vengeance. For the lives, millions of lives are lost every day,” he reportedly said. “Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, all these places where innocent lives are being taken every single day … All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 8.20.29 AMAuthorities this week said Brown has been connected to a fourth murder in an April drive-by shooting in Spanaway. In July, CHS reported on Brown’s capture in New Jersey where he has been accused of another murder.

Seattle Police say Brown killed 27-year-old Ahmed Said and 23-year-old Dwone Anderson-Young in a “premeditated” and “unprovoked” June 1st attack at 29th and King.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement on the latest charges against Brown:

The charging documents reveal disturbing details about Brown’s motive for committing these murders, which appears to have based on anti-American sentiment and an extreme interpretation of the Muslim faith. While Brown invoked his faith, we must be clear that Brown’s views and his actions do not reflect the values of Muslims.

Brown’s alleged attacks make the second high-profile case this year involving Capitol Hill and a suspect believed to have hate crime motivations. Wednesday, CHS reported that defense attorneys for convicted Neighbours nightclub arsonist Musab Masmari have filed an appeal of the 10-year sentence in the case.

Seattle cops don’t live in Seattle

Data-driven news blog FiveThirtyEight reports that only 12% of Seattle’s police force calls the city home ranking it among the worst big cities in America for the measure. You’ll note that the department’s black officers are much more likely to call the city home:

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In light of the continuing protests in Ferguson, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver discusses the significance of where police officers live:

In Ferguson, Missouri, where protests continue following the shooting of a teenager by a police officer this month, more than two-thirds of the civilian population is black. Only 11 percent of the police force is. The racial disparity is troubling enough on its own, but it’s also suggestive of another type of misrepresentation. Given Ferguson’s racial gap, it’s likely that many of its police officers live outside city limits.

If so, Ferguson would have something in common with most major American cities. In about two-thirds of the U.S. cities with the largest police forces, the majority of police officers commute to work from another town.

In 2011, I helped create this map for SeattleCrime.com showing where Seattle Police officers call home around the region:

At the time, the McGinn administration was floating ideas around residency requirements for SPD officers. In the continued fallout from Ferguson, it will be interesting to see if the push is renewed.

UPDATE: Here’s a note we received from an East Precinct officer who has asked to remain anonymous:

A lot more officers than 12% live in the city. Many of us, including myself, use an address of relatives or a PO Box to receive our mail and city correspondence. As far as mandating where an officer lives, that has been ruled illegal . An employer can’t force that issue in Washington.

The officer says that on his squad of seven, four officers live in the city — but only one lists a local mailing address.

Defense to appeal 10-year sentence in Neighbours arson case

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.00.19 AMAttorneys for convicted Neighbours arsonist Musab Masmari have filed an appeal of the 10-year sentence in the case.

“Because of the political nature of this case, one always suspected this could happen,” defense attorney Charles Swift said after the July decision by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to double the five years both sides in the case had agreed to. Prosecutors told CHS at the time that they believed Masmari had an anti-gay bias but they asked the judge to not raise the sentence based on hate crime motivations because it would open the possibility of appeals.

The Seattle Weekly broke the news on the appeal and reported more on attorney Charles Swift’s involvement in the case:

As with Hamdan’s case, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court, Masmari’s sentence was political, Swift thinks. Shortly after the term was handed down by U.S. Judge Ricardo Martinez on July 31 – doubling the five-year sentence that prosecutors and Masmari had agreed to in a plea bargain – Swift told reporters he was worried this could happen “because of the political nature of this case.” The next day, he gave notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, challenging the sentence. He is set to file his appellate brief by Halloween.

Masmari, a former Capitol Hill resident, pleaded guilty to setting a New Year’s Eve fire inside a crowded Neighbours nightclub. The arsonist blamed his actions on drinking too much alcohol before setting the fire. In the statement Masmari said he drank an entire “cheap bottle of whiskey” on New Year’s Eve and said he did not remember what happened afterwards. “This defendant violated people’s right to gather safely: he put more than 700 lives at risk when he purposely started a fire at a crowded nightclub on New Year’s Eve,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in a written statement in May.

Blotter | Harvard/Pine gaybashing charge — Plus, conviction in 2008 Central District murder

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Gaybashing charge: A 22-year-old Auburn man arrested in the Sunday night, August 10th alleged gaybashing at Harvard and Pine has been charged with malicious harassment, the state’s hate crime statute. Ivan Prokhorin faces the charge for his role in allegedly sparking an attack on two men he saw holding hands on Harvard Ave. According to police, Prokhorin, who was with two other males, yelled “Fucking faggots” and followed the two victims to their vehicle carrying an empty Corona bottle. The men told police they grabbed a baseball bat from their own car to defend themselves. “Is there a problem?,” one of the victims asked. “Yes, because you are a fucking faggot,” Prokhorin is alleged to have yelled as he attempted to strike the victims with the bottle but missed and hit the car, shattering the glass. Police say one of other suspects then wrestled away the bat and hit one of the victims several times on the back. The victim was not seriously injured. According to police, the attackers fled in a car but officers located the BMW near 9th Ave and E Alder. There are currently no charges filed against the men who were with Prokhorin. Continue reading

Blotter | Police find no suspect — and no victim, either — in armed robbery on Seattle U campus

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  •  Seattle U robbery: SPD investigated a strange robbery reported on the Seattle University campus early Saturday morning. According to a security bulletin issued by the school, “an individual was seen by security robbing another individual” in the area of the St. Ignatius Chapel around 12:54 AM. SPD responded to the 11th/Madison report of an armed robbery but could not locate the victim seen by Seattle U security. A search for the suspect was also unsuccessful. He was described as “a light skinned male, thin build, wearing a white and blue tank top.” “He may be missing his shoes,” the bulletin notes.
  • 22/Cherry phone mugging: The victim in a Saturday night phone grab near 22nd and Cherry told police he was robbed by a group of five males. Police responded to the near-9:30 PM incident but did not immediately locate the group, according to radio dispatches.
  • Broadway bottle assault: One man was arrested and another trespassed from the area in a tussle with a 200 block Broadway E business owner Wednesday night after one of the suspects allegedly threw a wine bottle at the business owner, missed, and hit the owner’s mother. According to the SPD report on the incident, the owner told police he “had problems with the two before” and said the men were “verbally abusing passersby and drinking in front of the store” –Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 1.25.47 PMOfficers arriving at the 6:30 PM advised the owner to call police in the future to trespass people from in front of his store. Police found one of the suspects had an outstanding warrant for theft. He was taken into custody for investigation of the assault and the $10,000 warrant. The other suspect was trespassed from the business.

Blotter | Gunpoint robbery at 24th and Harrison’s Prentis Frazier Park

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Gunpoint robbery: A woman said she was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night while sitting on a bench at 24th and Harrison’s Prentis Frazier Park, according to Seattle police. Police are searching for two male suspects. The victim told police that around 10:20 PM two men approached her as one pointed a silver revolver at her face and said “give me your stuff.” When she screamed the man threatened to shoot her, at which point the woman handed over her back pack and phone. According to SPD, the victim described the suspects as “two black males in their 30s. One man was about 5-foot-9, the other suspect was approximately 6-feet tall.” Officers searched the area around the park but made no arrests.
  • E Pike phone robbery: A Capitol Hill man said a group of men robbed him of his iPhone early Thursday morning outside the QFC entrance at Broadway and E Pike, according to police reports. The victim told police 5-6 men approached him near the Cha Cha Lounge on E Pike. The victim said the men chased him as he ran towards the QFC, where he tripped and fell. The suspects then took his phone. Police made no arrests.

Man arrested for using a bat in possible gaybashing on E Pine

Seattle Police arrested a man Sunday night on Capitol Hill for striking a man with a baseball bat and verbally harassing the victim for holding hands with another man. The incident happened around 11 PM Sunday when two men were walking by Harvard Ave and E Pine while holding hands. When the victims passed a parked car, they told police the occupants of the car started heckling them and called them “faggots.” Two of the suspects got out of the car and started following the victims.

One of the victims grabbed a baseball bat from their own car to defend themselves, but one of the suspects took it from him and hit him several times on the back, according to police. The victim was not seriously injured. According to police, the attackers fled in a car but officers located the vehicle near 9th Ave and E Alder. One of the men was arrested and booked into King County Jail for malicious harassment.

Update (8/12): On Monday a King County judge found probable cause to continue jailing Ivan Prokhorin, 22, in the alleged attack, according to court documents. Bail for the Auburn man was set at $75,000 and Prokhorin is next scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

According to police reports, one suspect said he was from Russia, one said he was from Ukraine, and one said he was from Kazakhstan. Here’s SPD’s Blotter.