Most dangerous job on Capitol Hill? Working at the Broadway Market QFC

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This pepper spray incident at QFC was caught on camera (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

A war zone. That’s how Mathew Chandler describes working at the Broadway Market QFC. Nearly every day police are called to the Capitol Hill grocery store for reports of an assault or harassment. According to Chandler, most of the disturbances are caused by people who are intoxicated, mentally ill, or both and QFC staff are often the first to respond. And without off-duty cops around to help, those involved say it’s a dangerous situation for employees — and shoppers.

“There are a lot of the same locals that refuse to respect the store and refuse to stop coming in,” said Chandler, who works as a clerk and assistant manager. “They know we’re virtually powerless to do anything about it.”

Also for sale in front of QFC -- heroin, $8 (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Also for sale in front of QFC — heroin, $8 (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

On August 12th, Chandler was about to clock out for the night when a man entered the store and began swearing at customers. When Chandler approached, the man threatened to beat him up. Eventually Chandler escorted the man out of the store.

Once outside, the man threatened to kill Chandler with a champagne bottle he was holding. According to police reports, Chandler warned the man he would mace him if he came any closer. When the man raised the bottle over his head, Chandler sprayed him.

“In the heat of the moment I just wanted to get the situation under control,” Chandler told CHS.

The man did back down and was arrested for harassment. However, due to a company policy against carrying mace while on the clock, Chandler says he was suspended for a week and had three days of pay withheld.

A QFC representative told CHS she could not comment on the incident, Chandler’s suspension, or the company’s policy regarding employees carrying pepper spray.

Chandler has been an employee with QFC for nearly nine years, mostly working in stores on the Eastside and in North Seattle. He said inadequate security in the store due to replacing off-duty police officers with private guards led him to carry mace that night. The QFC representative also declined to comment on the use of private security guards over off-duty officers. QFC is a subsidiary of Kroger.

The daily incidents are a constant stress on QFC workers, Chandler said

“For the most part we just try to console each other and be there for each other,” he said. “It’s emotionally and physically and mentally taxing.”

Stressful and occasionally violent situations aren’t uncommon for Chandler in his other job as a bouncer. He said he’s worked security for Neumos and for the Capitol Hill Block Party.

“Being a bouncer should not be less stressful than working at a goddamn grocery store,” he said.

And without better security, Chandler wants QFC to change its policy against employees carrying mace. “Something really bad could happen and at that point it could be too late,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or anyone get killed.”

UPDATE: To see if the situation is getting worse, we pulled East Precinct data for the block from 2014 through this August. So far, the monthly totals for total dispatches are on the same pace as 2014. We’ve also provided a breakdown of the various types of incidents SPD ultimately is called to respond to on the block.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.38.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.37.50 AM

One shot in gunfight near Douglass-Truth Library

The victim in a reported shootout near the Douglass-Truth Library was rushed in a private vehicle to Swedish Cherry Hill Sunday afternoon.

A large medic response ensued at the hospital around 3:35 PM before transporting the victim to Harborview’s trauma center. We do not have information on the condition of the victim at this time.

The shooting followed 911 callers reporting more gunfire in the Central District. The person who was shot was reported down near 24th Ave and Yesler where three or four people were reported to be carrying the victim to a nearby vehicle.

Callers provided conflicting details on possible suspects as multiple vehicles and people rushed from the area to assist in transporting the victim to the hospital. According to police radio dispatches, the shooter was believed to be a young male seen walking with a group leaving the scene at 24th and Yesler. According to a witness account, multiple shooters were involved in the incident.

East Precinct and City Hall representatives met with community members last week at a neighborhood crime meeting to discuss recent gun violence. “There is no higher priority in the city for the chief than dealing with the gun violence that’s going on,” Capt. Paul McDonagh said. There has been a 23% increase in reports of shots fired this year in Seattle.

UPDATE: SPD says the victim and the main suspect “knew each other” — parse that statement how you will.

UPDATE 8:45 PM: In a second incident, 911 callers reported seeing two vehicles with occupants shooting at each near 18th and Jackson just after 8 PM. There were no reported victims but police found multiple vehicles parked in the area had been struck by gunfire. Police were collecting shell casings and evidence at the scene.

UPDATE 8/31/2015 9:35 AM: SPD says it will be posting a report on the incident later Monday.

UPDATE 8/31/2015 4:35 PM: SPD has posted a brief on the incident in a rundown of more gun-related activity in the city from the weekend:

Just before 3:30 PM Saturday, police received a report of a shooting at 24th Ave. and E. Yesler Way.

As officers drove to the scene, they received an update from witnesses that a motorist in a white SUV had loaded a wounded man into his vehicle and driven away from the scene.

The wounded 20-year-old man arrived at a Central District hospital a short time later, and officers learned he had been in a dispute with a group of young men at 24th and Yesler. The man reportedly exchanged shots with one of the men in the other group, and was struck. A ride-share driver, who was not involved in the incident, had apparently spotted the injured 20-year-old and stopped to take him to a hospital. The 20-year-old was reportedly in stable condition following the shooting. Detectives are investigating.

Talk of gun violence and race at East Precinct community meeting

Residents concerned by the recent uptick in violence crowded EastPAC’s August meeting Thursday night. “I have heard more shots this summer than I have in eight years,” one man said at the meeting, which was attended by officials from the Seattle Police Department and a representative from the City Attorney’s office.

East Precinct neighborhoods have seen a 13% increase in violent crime and a 23% increase in reports of shots fired this year. This bullet-fueled crime wave has brought murder to the Central District and Capitol Hill including the slaying of 23-year-old Ramon Mitchell outside the Baltic Room.

At Thursday’s meeting, residents demanded to know what SPD was doing to combat the crime that had made them feel unsafe in their homes and neighborhoods. “There is no higher priority in the city for the chief than dealing with the gun violence that’s going on,” said Capt. Paul McDonagh, commander of the East Precinct since April.

McDonagh said SPD has noticed an increased willingness among some area youth to “use firearms at will” and the department was struggling to solve crimes because of what he said is a “no snitching” culture on the streets. He said the department was trying to steer youth away from crime by supporting initiatives such as the Seattle Youth Summer Employment Program while also building relationships with federal anti-crime agencies such as the ATF to enhance its crime fighting abilities.

“We have to talk about race,” said Pamela Banks, Urban League CEO and current District 3 candidate. “That’s the conversation we have to have around this. We also have to talk about gentrification, and the impact it has on this community.” Continue reading

Blotter | QFC employee maces champagne shoplift suspect

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

  • QFC melee: The Broadway Market QFC has been the scene for several brazen, sometimes violent shoplifting incidents this summer — an August 12th melee in which a suspect accused of trying to steal a bottle of champagne was pepper sprayed by a store employee may have been the unfortunate peak. Police were called to the store in the 400 block of Broadway E around 11 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.42.56 PMOther witnesses corroborated the employee’s account, according to SPD’s report. A person who captured the scene on camera also showed an image to the responding officer clearly showing the suspect holding the bottle. According to report, the suspect was placed under arrest, taken to East Precinct, and allowed to wash out his eyes from the pepper spray attack. He was booked into jail for investigation of harassment.
  • Pratt Park jitters: With attention on recent gun and gang violence around the East Precinct and near-nightly reports of gunfire in the area, a large group in a Central District park brought out Seattle Police Tuesday afternoon. According to East Precinct radio dispatches, an officer reported a group of 30 to 40 people gathering in Pratt Park around 4 PM. After a call went out for gang units to respond the area, the situation was quickly cleared up after police found out the crowd as actually part of a rap video being filmed in the park. Continue reading

SPD increases efforts to put ‘shooters in handcuffs’ after East Precinct gun violence

Seattle Police commanders say they’re taking a laser focused approach to identifying and arresting suspects of violent crime in the wake of an uptick of shootings in the city, several of which have occurred in the East Precinct.

Chief Kathleen O’Toole highlighted the department’s recent strategies to tackle gang violence with “predictive analysis” at a briefing Tuesday. The cornerstone of the increased effort is a daily meeting at the department’s Real Time Crime Center, where officials discuss every violent crime that occurred over the past 24 hours.

In the meetings which began last month, O’Toole said information on suspects vehicles and known gang affiliations is widely distributed and specific officers are tasked with making arrests. SPD also began holding a weekly violent crime meeting with regional and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Shooters in handcuffs, that’s our top priority,” O’Toole said. The effort recently led to the recovery of a stolen vehicle connected to the August 13th killing of 24-year-old Antonio Jones at 26th and Columbia. Continue reading

NRA sues to stop Seattle ‘Gun Violence Tax’

The National Rifle Association is leading a lawsuit against the City of Seattle over its tax on firearms and ammunition designed to help offset the expense of gun violence.

The recently passed legislation was sponsored by City Council president and ex-cop Tim Burgess and will institute a $25 tax on gun sales and a 5 cent tax on each round of ammunition. The city estimates the taxes would raise up to $500,000 per year. Burgess said taxpayers paid more than $12 million in 2014 to offset unpaid medical bills for gunshot victims at Harborview. The revenue from the tax would fund a two-year gun violence prevention program.

“Once again, anti-gun activists in Seattle have chosen to violate the Washington State Constitution and trample upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” the NRA said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes after a deadly week in Seattle with four fatal shootings in the city including the slaying of a 23-year-old amid the nightlife crowds of Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill murder comes in week of fatal shootings in Seattle — UPDATE

Around 30 people attended an anti-violence vigil Saturday night (Image: CHS)

Around 30 people attended an anti-violence vigil Saturday night (Image: CHS)

It appears Sunday, August 16th’s murder of a 23-year-old in a Pine/Melrose parking lot is part of a sad wave of fatal shootings in Seattle this summer.

Police are now investigating the murder of a 24-year-old man after a shooting early Sunday morning near 12th and Main:

The victim was seated inside a parked car in the 1200 Block of S. Main Street with several other people early this morning.  Three males approached the car and a confrontation ensued.   Everyone but the victim got out of the car.  The suspects  shot the victim multiple times as he sat in the car. Following the 911 call, the victim was transported to HMC where he later died.

The murder occurred only blocks from the spot where an International District community organizer was gunned down earlier this month in a case that remains unsolved. UPDATE: SPD has announced an arrest in the case:

The suspect from this morning’s homicide in the 1200 Block of South Main Street is in custody and is in the process of being booked into the King County Jail.
Late this morning, the 21-year-old suspect wanted in connection with the shooting was taken into custody at his residence. He was interviewed by detectives following his arrest and then booked into jail. Detectives are still seeking the other suspect. This remains an active and on-going investigation.
Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the Seattle Police Department or they can call the Homicide Tip Line at (206) 233-5000.

UPDATE 8/25/2015: The Seattle Times reports that the victim in Sunday’s shooting actually survived the incident.

This Sunday’s incident follows a fatal shooting Saturday morning outside a Queen Anne gas station that left a 22-year-old man dead and two others wounded:

Homicide and CSI detectives responded to the scene, interviewing witnesses and canvassing for evidence. After further investigation, detectives have determined that the shooting took place inside of the parked car and that suspects and victims have been accounted for. Detectives have not ruled out the possibility that the shooting occurred as a result of a drug robbery.

The murders push Seattle’s number of killings this year to 19 — the 17th came on Capitol Hill just after 2 AM on Sunday the 16th when 23-year-old Ramon Mitchell was shot and killed amid a crowd of nightlife revelers. Police continue to investigate the case.

The 16th came just days before in a fatal shooting at 26th and Columbia in the Central District.

In 2014, 26 people were murdered in the city.

Saturday night, a small group held a candlelight vigil in the parking lot where Mitchell was shot.

Violent crime is up 13% in the East Precinct so far in 2015 compared to the same period last year. SPD officials announced earlier this summer they are working with federal agencies to quell a wave of gun violence across the East Precinct and the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms revealed its agents had installed surveillance cameras on utility poles in the Central District.

UPDATE by Mohamed Adan: About thirty people gathered Saturday night to take part in the anti-crime vigil organized by Social Outreach Seattle and Daniel Goodman, a Capitol Hill resident who recently wrote an open letter to Mayor Ed Murray and other city officials after being beaten and robbed near Hot Mama’s Pizza while walking home from a gay bar.


Continue reading

East Precinct assault and robbery reports up 13%

We mentioned the latest SeaStat statistical analysis report (PDF) from SPD Thursday in our post about this Saturday’s planned anti-crime vigil and march. Here’s a more full look at this month’s report’s East Precinct components.

Overall in 2015, serious crimes against persons are up sharply — 13% — in the East Precinct:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.57.37 PMWhile in the city as a whole, the same serious category is up 3%:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.57.16 PMHere’s a closer look at the citywide robbery totals and where they are occuring:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.55.24 PMMeanwhile, the summer’s gunfire activity shows a rise in non-fatal shootings and a 23% jump in reports of shots fired: Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.55.38 PMMeanwhile, parking garage burglaries remain an issue on Capitol Hill:Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.55.59 PM

‘Our neighborhood belongs to us, not crime’ — Vigil planned for Pine parking lot where 23-year-old gunned down

Candlelight Vigil FlyerA group dedicated to increasing public safety on Capitol Hill is planning a vigil and march against crime Saturday night to begin in the Pine St. parking lot where a 23-year-old was gunned down this past weekend.

“This candlelight vigil is focused on the mantra, ‘OUR NEIGHBORHOOD BELONGS TO US, NOT CRIME,’ the flyer states. “Violence of any kind is unwelcome.”

The event is being organized by Social Outreach Seattle, a group started in 2013 by community organizer Shaun Knittel, and Daniel Goodman, the victim in a recent Capitol Hill robbery and assault, turned neighborhood activist.

The march includes a vigil and moment of silence across from the Baltic Room in the parking lot where Ramon Mitchell was shot and killed in a gunfire-filled melee just after 2 AM last Sunday. Continue reading

CHS Community Post | ‘Letter intending to hold city leaders accountable for Seattle’s current crime crisis’

By Daniel Goodman
Dear Mayor Ed Murray, City Council Member Kshama Sawant, and City Attorney Pete Holmes,

Our city is in a crisis, and I demand to know what you are doing to end it. Mayor Murray, you ran for mayor on a platform of police reform and decreasing crime in our city. I’m writing to hold you all accountable for failing the city of Seattle.

Walking on Boylston 30 feet from Pine, I heard someone behind me say, “Hey!”. I turned around to a smiling white guy and his friends who looked about my age, 31. Immediately I was punched in the face. That’s all that I remember of the incident.

I don’t know how long I was out for. It was long enough for the blood from the gash on my forehead to trickle its way along my scalp, through my hair, and crust up on the back of my head where I was lying face up on the concrete. When I regained consciousness, two girls were hovering over me asking me if I was ok. They called the police for me, as my phone had been stolen. I went to Harborview Medical and got stitches for the gash in my forehead. I was told that the hole from the inside of my gums through to the outside of my face would heal on its own. Continue reading