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Police report details 15th/Union hatchet killing

The Seattle Police Department report on Monday’s fatal hatchet attack at the corner of 15th and Union details a chilling account of a man’s death by “at least ten blows to the head.” You can view the report, below.

Joe LaMagno, 58, died quickly at the scene of the attack and did not appear to have had any time to defend himself, according to the report. A memorial for LaMagno was held at the corner where he died Tuesday night.

26-year-old Michael LaRosa was captured in a nearby alley and arrested for the crime within minutes of the attack. The document says LaRosa is homeless and stays at downtown shelters. He recently had an address on Summit Ave, according to county records. In the report, LaRosa tells police he had been “diagnosed as being schizophrenic and Bi-Polar.”

It also recounts the minutes before the attack from LaRosa’s statements to police:

“I gave your sister herpes, without having it!” La-Rosa stated the victim then “smacked” him and stated, “What are you going to do about that!”. La-. Rosa told detectives he usually carries his axe in his backpack but on this morning he was walking with it in his hand. La-Rosa told detectives;”] don’t know what came over me because I’ve never done murder you know.”

 

LaRosa PC Statement

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Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
11 years ago

First Shannon Harps, now this tragic case.

Alan
Alan
11 years ago

We can’t. Life is a series of risks, every day, both chosen and random.

christine h
christine h
11 years ago

the chosen risks, i understand — it’s the random risks. I think of Shannon’s death at least once every day. I live across the street from Sound Mental Health. I used to view their offices as a benign presence where people get help, but my first, reactionary, impulse is that this clinic needs to be somewhere else, i don’t know where, but anywhere else. I have never felt so NIMBY in my entire life, but to be scared of anybody waiting for a taxi or bus — i’m not prepared to spend the rest of my life that way. It really is them or me here, it seems.

JM
JM
11 years ago

I’m not sure if it even matters now, but your recap of the minutes before the attack are inaccurate. The report says that La-Rosa stated he thought the victim said “I gave your sister herpes…etc.” and that the victim “smacked” him. It also says that La-Rosa has heard voices in his head that state people give him and his family diseases.

I don’t believe for a minute that Joe said any of that or that Joe smacked him. I do believe La-Rosa thought this happened and La-Rosa’s explanation makes sense. He is paranoid and hears voices and sometimes those voices are about diseases given to him and his family. I feel bad for Joe and I feel bad for La-Rosa. This is just a tragedy.

jseattle
jseattle
11 years ago

The report was compiled by Seattle Police but yes, as I noted above, it recounts the moments before the attack from LaRosa’s statements to officers. Given LaRosa’s statements about his condition, it’s likely that there is significant delta with reality.

maz
maz
11 years ago

i think it is time to make a change with our cities policy for careing or putting up with homeless crazies. I say a boat trip to the middle of the ocean is in order.

genevieve
genevieve
11 years ago

I share your unease – I live 2 blocks from where this week’s murder took place and know several people who live in the building where Shannon Harp was killed. I also don’t drive so I am always walking the streets of my neighborhood. But if the impulse is “this clinic needs to be somewhere else” you should really be thinking “I need to live somewhere else”.

SMH’s facility isn’t new and there are lots of housing services for troubled individuals in Cap Hill. It’s part of the deal of living here. Where do you propose SMH move, exactly?

Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
11 years ago

Can we tie the supervised administering of meds to the provision of some of the services (housing, food,..) that many people probably rely upon?

MB
MB
11 years ago

It’s easy to say “send the crazies away” but really- at some time, this person was somebody’s son, brother, uncle, etc. It’s really sad, unfortunate and random that this happened, and I feel for Joe and his family, but also for the perpetrator’s family. We can’t just send the crazies away- they’re our family too.

kgdlg
kgdlg
11 years ago

This is so tragic. I have a brother in law that is schizophrenic, and every time I hear a story like this I think of him, and all of the family support he is lucky to have. , I think that this is so much a part of the problem, from what I read the attacker had no friends and family here, and was alone to stop taking his meds. SMH is not the problem here, it is the lack of resources to address complex mental health resources, especially for people like this who are alone facing homelessness and illness. I hate to say it, but with GAU on the chopping block at the State level, these problems will only get worse, as this is how many chronically ill and homeless get mental health services, and any healthcare at all.

If you want to help stop tragedies like this in the future, put yourself to work trying to urge the legislature to save GAU and support services for those most in need.

funkisockmunki
funkisockmunki
11 years ago

– sure, the guy is someone’s family, but they didn’t give a damn enough to take care of him in their own home or at the very least make sure he was properly hospitalized.

People don’t want to take care of their mentally ill and old, and the population also seems to vote against taxation and funding for services that will do the dirty job for them. That is just goddamn irresponsible. His caretakers, whoever they were, should be brought up on charges of negligence. The state can’t sit back and claim they are paralyzed by lack of funds, and families throw their hands up and claim it’s not their problem when it will mean the public is put in danger. Because of them all, they made it Joe’s problem, and they are *directly* responsible for his tragic end.

troy
troy
11 years ago

Here’s a posting I made on another thread earlier. It seems to fit better here though—Until a few weeks ago I lived just 3 blocks from this site of this new murder…

As I read this story I am reminded of the murder of Shannon Harps just a few blocks from my old apartment and how I refused to walk around at night for weeks until her murderer was caught. There have been too many of these mentally ill violent criminals to think that these things are truly random anymore. In addition to Shannon Harps and this latest murder there was also Teresa Butz, the September murders of 4 members of the Harm family by the matriarch who was schizophrenic and the 6 murders on I5 a few years ago by Isaac Zamora. From news accounts most of these people had a long history of mental illness and involvement in police altercations before they committed murder.

I can’t help but think that these murders and the other lower level crimes by mentally ill persons are a result of our society’s desire to push these people away and make them the problem of “the system”–the police, the courts, the community mental health centers and the families that are unlucky enough to have a mentally ill loved one.

As I watched the election returns a few weeks ago I wondered if the voters choosing more personal freedom and less taxes understood they were also making the choice to make themselves and their children more vulnerable to incidences like this murder. There will be less police, less prosecutors, less mental health services and less courts to address chronically mentally ill people who may be involved in lower level offenses before they murder. King County is one of the rare jurisdictions that has a Mental Health Court to supervise lower level offenders through specially trained mental health probation officers and order mentally ill offenders to attend mental health counseling and medication management. Its unlikely that this service to the community will survive the rounds of necessary budget cuts even though the need especially after an incident like this one is obvious. Even if it continues on some form it won’t be sufficient to truly address the problem.

Most citizens will continue to think that these crimes are too random to imagine that they or someone they love could be victims. Imagine if the school children who witnessed this crime had become victims themselves? Its clear that we as a society don’t care enough to truly create the change needed in the law, the funding of courts, police, and mental health services to truly treat and divert mentally ill persons from these violent crimes.

There will be more murders and violent crimes by mentally ill persons unless we as a society choose to pay the costs of treament before people offend–if not we’ll pay for treatment while the mentally ill offenders spend the rest of their lives in prison

****
****
11 years ago

Don’t blame the mentally ill nor the caretakers. I am a caretaker at a mental health facility one block away from 15th and union. We take care of clients with the same conditons that La Rosa had but our clients are compliant with their meds. Its amazing how some of them are so aware of their mental health and can function perfectly well. Our clients do have 24 hour care, but it is their choice to live here. Caretakers/providers hands are tied. People still have rights even though they are mentally ill, you cannot force them to seek help. If you have never had to deal with mental illness in your life good for you FUNKIS. Most of these people never had a chance. It is so sad what happened, today was the first day I could walk past that block. But please remember to not judge the mentally ill, not all of them are “crazies.”

Christina
Christina
11 years ago

Very well said Troy. As someone who has worked in these systems, I can’t agree with you more.

Robert
Robert
11 years ago

I don’t think I can speak for anyone else but as I understand it, nobody is blaming the mentally ill. That is a false dichotomy because it is fruitless to think that someone who is affected by something like the attacker was – they can’t take care of themselves, of course. I think we’re all objecting to the conditions we live in….

Fred
Fred
11 years ago

“I can’t help but think that these murders and the other lower level crimes by mentally ill persons are a result of our society’s desire to push these people away and make them the problem of “the system””

Well don;t push, give ’em a hug why don’t ya.

calhoun
calhoun
11 years ago

Most of the patients at a community mental health facility, such as Sound Mental Health, are on Medicaid, and this program pays for their clinic visits and all medications, and without any deductibles or copays.

GAU (“General Assistance Unemployable”) is a separate, cash welfare program which is designed to help qualified people with things like rent, food etc. It has nothing to do with the medical care of the mentally ill.

calhoun
calhoun
11 years ago

For those like LaRosa with serious mental illness, I think that facilities such as Sound Mental Health need to have a system in place whereby such patients receive daily medications in a supervised way. If they don’t show up to the clinic for this every day, or perhaps get their meds at home by a nurse outreach worker, then this should be grounds for involuntary committment. I know the latter is now quite difficult to achieve…maybe the laws need to be changed to make it easier.

This is the ONLY way to prevent the tragic murders which seem to be happening on a regular basis. The system is NOT working in its present form, and I am really sick& tired of hearing of the horrendous crimes committed by those who choose to not take their medications.

kgdlg
kgdlg
11 years ago

It is my understanding that GAU also entails medical care (on top of the cash assistance) as this booklet highlights:

http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/Publications/22-660.pdf

I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that for some, losing GAU means losing access to care.

Fred
Fred
11 years ago

How can you make them take their meds? Give them their food stamps every day only after they have been seen taking their meds. You can train rats to push the lever……

troy
troy
11 years ago

Fred:
I don’t understand the point of your post–the whole point of mine is that the more we make mentally ill offenders someone else’s problem, i.e. the drs who can prescribe medications but cannot force people to take them, the psychiatric hospitals who by law have to release patients unless the individual is an imminent danger to himself or others, the families who are alternately terrified, saddened and exasperated by their mentally ill loved one, the jails which are not equipped to deal w. mental illness, the community mental health systems which are woefully inadequate for a myriad of reasons (including few therapists can afford to work for 35k per year w. the massive debt load it costs for a graduate degree)the obvious result is that we all run a greater risk for these kinds of acts.

Just as its not an “accident” when a drunk driver crashes his car and kills someone; its not really a “random” act of violence when a person w. a history of violence and mental illness kills someone in broad daylight. Its a foreseeable consequence of not advocating for changes in the law and choosing to not pay higher taxes for social programs and a better criminal justice system to address the problem of mentally ill violent offenders.

troy
troy
11 years ago

Food stamps is a federal program administered by the state DSHS offices–it hasn’t got anything to do with access to mental health care. Besides, how would you create the infrastucture and pay for a program where people received daily visits w. case managers or nurses to take their medications? What about people who take medications 2 or 3 times per day…would they receive 3 visits per day?

Don’t forget we voted to not have an income tax on the wealthy, to not implement an increase in the county sales tax and to repeal taxes on soda so that cuts to county and state government funding would be even greater than projected. You’re suggesting a whole lot of bureaucracy that the public has already chosen not to pay for.

certaindoom
certaindoom
11 years ago

If residents of Capitol hill and other “mental health dumping ground” neighborhoods protested and wrote and demonstrated to get the mental health facilities closed and moved. I have never understood why some of the most expensive, closest density areas of town are also where the city/state have decided to locate their most crazy and most dangerous outpatient projects.
But they do, and here we are, with at least one random senseless killing a year of an innocent resident by some crazy off his meds violent disaster everyone knew was coming except the people that needed to know most, those of us living our lives down here among them.

I am ready and willing to shout loud and long get the mental health facilities OUT OF CAPITOL HILL. Out of the city, out of the county, out someplace where there’s small population density and these people can quit the pressures of being around people that apparently drive some of them to kill.

I know it’ll never happen. We’ll get accused of wanting interrment camps and worse, all the do gooders and/or those with a stake in the status quo will want things kept how they are, or worse, want more funding for even more guaranteed to fail halfway houses and outpatient clinics.

Capitol Hill residents contribute taxes to the city and state, we earn more than almost any neighborhood per capita in the state. And our reward in part is to be gifted the most insane and most out of control outpatients the state has to dump off.

The traditional thing is for people to get fed up with this and sell their property or rent it out and leave, go somewhere quiet and safer, or at least where the risks are different.

I’d like to see the majority of capitol hill stop “taking it” and stand up against our lives being threatened by stupid and wrong headed policies by state agencies that result in murders of innocent people by people who are not fit to be walking around in a crowded urban setting. But I probably won’t.

calhoun
calhoun
11 years ago

Thanks for that link, kgdlg. I stand corrected. GAU (now DL) and Medicaid used to be separate programs, but it appears that at some point, at least for some Medicaid clients (those who qualify for DL cash assistance), they became linked. This no doubt was an effort by the state to save money, because most DL people are now in a managed care program. But the basics remain the same…they still get free medical/mental health care, including medications, as they certainly should.

Yes, there is some talk that the state may decide to cut back on funding for the DL program, in order to reduce the deficit. But I would be very surprised if the DL clients lost their medical care (and with it their access to mental health services), because the federal government is the primary funder for these things (within the Medicaid program). Anything is possible, but hopefully this will not happen.

kgdlg
kgdlg
11 years ago

@certaindoom

I understand that this is a time to feel angry, but your desire to make the mentally ill just go away is wrongheaded and just plain illogical. Capitol Hill doesn’t have a disproportionate amount of services because it is a “dumping ground” for mentally ill. It has these services precisely because it is one of the densest neighborhoods, a place where one can live and access health, grocery and transit services without a car and relatively affordably (until recently). It makes no logical sense to locate the most fragile in our community (yes, OUR, whether we like it or not we are in this together) in the middle of nowhere. Should we just move all the mentally ill to Enumclaw? How would that be done anyway? As much as we want to make these issues go away they won’t – and please remember that when you speak of the mentally ill you are speaking about someone’s brother, sister, uncle, father, grandmother. These are human beings that are struggling and it is our systematic de-funding of health care and services for mental illness that leaves many in a fragile state. I wholeheartedly agree with Troy above, as we move to an “everyone for themselves” society, many will be left behind and it will make it more dangerous for all of us.

Nurse Ratchet
Nurse Ratchet
11 years ago

Why don’t we just lock these people up? Seriously, bring back the sanitariums. Run them humanely, obviously. Fund them adequately, obviously, but lock the nutcases and crazies up.

calhoun
calhoun
11 years ago

To some degree I agree with you, because we must do something differently in order to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. The question is “who” to lock up, and “for how long”?

I am strongly in favor of changing our current involuntary committment laws to allow detaining of someone like LaRosa, who had shown a pattern of violent behavior due to severe mental illness.

rich
rich
11 years ago

How can people who need help like this be able to just walk around with an ax either in his bag or hand. Walking throughout cap hill as it is.

gseattle
gseattle
11 years ago

Yep. Unfortunately the police report doesn’t say which drug(s) the murderer, LaRosa, had been prescribed for the schizophrenia. That can be relevant, because, for some people, once on a medication, in a time of skipping or reducing a particular type of med they can snap like that. I’m betting these were SSRI (Selective Seretonin Reuptake Inhibitors), one of http://ssristories.com/index.php. Currently at this time, our culture (one worshipping pharmaceuticals and corporations in 2010) is not willing to come to grips with the fact that numerous drugs make some people arguably worse off than they would have been without them, i.e., anomalously dangerous, where even the perpetrator winds up surprized about what they did. Some of the implicated drugs in numerous cases: Celexa, Cymbalta, Effexor, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Seroquel, Wellbutrin, Zoloft

Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
11 years ago

A sanatarium, or sanatorium, as it is more commonly spelled, is a facility for isolating patients with a communicable illness to prevent its spread, as in tuberculosis before antibiotics were invented. I beleive you mean “Asylum”.

calhoun
calhoun
11 years ago

All medications have side effects, including anti-psychotics, but on balance they do alot more good than harm. You seem to be implying that these medications should not be used. If you had your way, there would be many more LaRosa-type incidents on our streets.

What exactly do you suggest for the treatment of a raging, angry, delusional, out-of-control paranoid schizophrenic?

gseattle
gseattle
11 years ago

calhoun, I’m very impressed by your ability to misunderstand.