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LaRosa charged with murder in 15th/Union hatchet killing, now suspect in a 2nd street death

Michael LaRosa, the man police say hacked a 14th Avenue man to death with a hatchet in a bloody attack the Monday before Thanksgiving, will face charges of murder in the first degree, according to court documents filed Tuesday by the King County Prosecutor.

According to the document, LaRosa is also suspected in another murder “also committed on a Seattle sidewalk” in the day before he allegedly killed at 15th and Union.

Yesterday, Seattle Police announced they were opening a homicide investigation into the death of a man found injured on a sidewalk Sunday night on 5th Ave South:

On November 21st, at approximately 8:40 PM, West Precinct officers responded to a 911 call of a man who was down on the ground and bleeding from his head at 5th Avenue South and South Weller Street.  When the officers arrived, the Seattle Fire Department was already on the scene treating the man.  The 64 year old man was unresponsive.  He was bleeding profusely from the head.   It appeared that injury may have been caused when the man fell, striking his head against a metal pipe attached to the building.  However, it was unknown whether or not the victim fell or was assaulted.  The victim was transported to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.  Homicide detectives were notified of the incident. 

On November 23rd, the case was assigned for follow-up to Homicide detectives as a possible assault.  On November 26th, the victim died at the hospital.  During the autopsy at the Medical Examiner’s Office, it was determined that the victim sustained more injuries than originally reported and that his injuries were not consistent with a fall, but with a serious assault.  This case is now being investigated as a homicide.  Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call Homicide at (206) 684-5550.

LaRosa, 26, told police he had bee “diagnosed as being schizophrenic and Bi-Polar,” according to their report.

58-year-old Joe LaMagno died in the Monday morning Capitol Hill attack. He was remembered the next night in a vigil held at the spot where he died.

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tco
tco
10 years ago

Lock him up and throw away the key. Never let the bastard see the light of day

Something's Missing
Something's Missing
10 years ago

I’m not quite understanding how a 64-year-old man can lay in a hospital room for 5 days without SOMEONE noticing that that his injuries “were not consistent with a fall, but a serious assault”. All along, we’re made to believe that the medical staff thought that he “fell, striking his head against a metal pipe…” Really? It takes an autopsy to determine this?! Something’s missing here.

c-doom
c-doom
10 years ago

So this punk likes hatcheting middle aged/old men out walking alone.
Useless pathetic animal, put him down now.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

If you’re schizophrenic, you can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Staying on the meds that help can be pretty difficult too, especially if you’re depressed, homeless, not too bright, unemployed, a drug addict, an assault victim, ill, or if there are severe side effects from the meds. It’s a horrible way to live, but having the disorder doesn’t automatically mean you’re a scumbag who needs to be punished. That’s why “not guilty by reason of insanity” exists, and that’s why they’ll have a trial to figure out what was going on in this case.

Remember, punishing someone who isn’t capable of controlling his actions doesn’t prevent the next schizophrenic guy from attacking someone, but more effective treatment for the mentally ill does.

So my response to “Lock him up! Put him down!” is to say “Improve awareness and funding for social services so they can prevent tragedies like this by providing more effective intervention and treatment!”

darwin
darwin
10 years ago

Why do I suspect you wouldn’t be so apologetic if he had hacked up your loved one.

At the root of all criminal behavior is some developmental, physiological or biochemical flaw; science has given fancy names to some and just not figured out the others yet. Maybe we should be harsher on those for whom treatment options exist, and who fail to take advantage of them.

somecaphillguy
somecaphillguy
10 years ago

I’m sorry, no. I respect your optimistic outlook, but this man is not deserving of it. Please read this article ( http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013513644_s), realize he made CHOICES to not stay on his meds, and not stay in treatment. He deserves everything he gets.

From the article:
“LaRosa, 26, believed he was well enough to live without medication, says his half-brother, Paul Umland. Instead, a source says that he has used illegal drugs to quell the noises in his head.”

Regardless of his mental health situation, this man is a proven threat to the public and should never see the light of day again, sad though it may be.

del
del
10 years ago

I agree with you – EXCEPT – for the fact that in this case the alleged perpetrator WAS receiving social services. He was an active participant in mental health treatment at Sound Mental Health. If anything, this situation calls attention to the need to make it legal to more easily forcibly medicate schizophrenics exhibiting histories of violence.

Hillrat
Hillrat
10 years ago

Treatment doesn’t always go hand in hand with investigation. I’m going to guess he was struck in the head with the hatchet, something they would not be able to tell until the coroner shaved the head and stuck their fingers in the hole (or cut it out and looked at it from the other side). None of which is possible when trying to keep the person alive.

not a statistic
not a statistic
10 years ago

yeah, this guy is mentally sick, but he’s also a murderer. i’m a survivor of child abuse, born to two drug addicted parents, and i’ve had issues all my life dealing with it. seen many a therapist. but I would never, EVER, ax someone in the back of the head. this guy was had access to medications, but was doing meth instead. yes, we need more effective treatment of the mentally ill. but this guy should be locked up for the rest of his life.

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

Thanks for the thoughtful responses.

For the record, I’m not apologizing for, or attempting to excuse in any way, the horrible things this man did. I just wanted to make a very specific point that increasingly harsher punishments don’t deter crazy people but improved awareness and services do.

As others have pointed out, he was receiving services but it wasn’t enough. His brother and another “source” knew he was off his meds and taking street drugs but were unwilling or unable to intervene and help prevent these tragedies. Increased public awareness might have made a difference. If it was common knowledge that a schizophrenic smoking meth instead of taking Seroquel is a ticking time bomb who might easily kill someone, they might have been spurred to act.

Seattle has amazingly effective social services, but if you compare them to what they might be if they were better funded the problem becomes obvious. I see better funding and better public support as the means for making forcible medication and/or commitment more feasible as well.

Robert
Robert
10 years ago

“If anything, this situation calls attention to the need to make it legal to more easily forcibly medicate schizophrenics exhibiting histories of violence.”

I agree.

“For the record, I’m not apologizing for, or attempting to excuse in any way, the horrible things this man did.”

Euphemism. Imagine someone saying the inverse, for the record.

Something's Missing
Something's Missing
10 years ago

I appreciate your analysis. But I suspect that any first year medical student could tell the difference between a bump from falling on a metal pipe- and hatchet wounds on a human head. That’s all I’m saying. At the end of the day, all that matters though, is that two lives were tragically ended by a mentally ill murderer who should not have been wandering the streets of Seattle with a deadly weapon.

calhoun
calhoun
10 years ago

It’s amazing, and at the same time disturbing, to me that LaRosa’s therapist(s) at Sound Mental Health were not aware of his illegal drug abuse and his refusal to take his prescribed medications. Or maybe they were aware, but just looked the other way, in spite of his recent episodes of violence and criminal behavior. Did they even make an effort to have him involuntarily committed, or did they just hide behind the excuse that this is all-but-impossible under the current laws? Is it truly that difficult, or is it a matter of therapists expending a little more effort in circumstances like this?

And what role did the clinic’s pharmacy play in this disaster? Did they not notice when he failed to refill his medications? Do they not have a tracking system to detect/red flag someone who is obviously not taking his/her medication? If they don’t have this now, I hope they will soon, because it is their responsibility not only to help their patient but also to protect the public.

--MC
--MC
10 years ago

>>It’s amazing, and at the same time disturbing, to me that LaRosa’s therapist(s) at Sound Mental Health were not aware of his illegal drug abuse and his refusal to take his prescribed medications.

I’m not surprised. That place is so strapped, they can’t keep enough people on staff to deal with all the people in their system. You’re lucky if you get ten minutes a week with one of the counselors.
I hear a lot of talk about how great it would be to put violent schizophrenics in a place where they can’t get at useful citizens, but I don’t hear a lot about spending money to do it.

M
M
10 years ago

Paranoid schizophrenics are notoriously difficult to medicate; it’s part and parcel with the disorder. He wasn’t making “rational” choices not to take meds– his illness was making that decision. I bet the person he was before this illness took over his brain would want to die if he knew how his life was going to go.

I have been the victim of violence by a person with the same sort of history. It is amazing how many times the ball gets dropped by those working in the system in such cases, sometimes due to lack of attention, sometimes due to over-optimism, sometimes due to legalities. Unfortunately, it seems that the system is mainly set up to respond to tragedy, not to prevent it.

Ryan
Ryan
10 years ago

That “animal” is my friend, Stop and think for a minute before your write such nonsense. How many people that aren’t mentally ill ax murder people, I’d say very few. You don’t make it 26 years and suddenly kill a stranger violently, He is sick. You are a truly ignorant mpathetic person, Killing him would be like killing a puppy for peeing on the floor.

Ryan
Ryan
10 years ago

He’s mentally ill, He’ll cam out of this episode hear what he did and cry. He is also a victim, how would you like it if a murderers other personality hijacked your brain and killed someone with it.