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With patrols increasing, woman says duo robbed her at gunpoint inside Cal Anderson

As East Precinct’s new commander says there will be increased emphasis on patrolling the park, a woman reported being robbed at gunpoint while sitting on a bench inside Cal Anderson Tuesday night.

According to the SPD report on the incident, the victim told police she was sitting on the bench with her friend around 11p when two males came up and tried to grab her purse from the ground where it was sitting. After a brief struggle, one of the muggers pulled out a gun. The victim told police she then quickly handed over the purse and the two males fled the park.

East Precinct commander Capt. Ron Wilson told CHS Tuesday afternoon about efforts to increase SPD’s presence in Cal Anderson and to cut down on reports of an increased level of camping and criminal activity.

“There are a host of things going on,” Capt. Wilson said. “As we moved into the summer, it’s really been a lot of effort to keep things from getting more out of hand.”

Most complaints from local businesses have been about the annual increase in people camping in the park and some of the social and criminal issues that accompany the camping. In September 2011, CHS reported on the mayor’s response to concerns about Cal Anderson and changes made by the Parks Department to curb camping, drug use and violence in the park. Whether the changes or the change of weather was more effective, reports of illegal activity in the park decreased over the winter. But Wilson said East Precinct is meeting with Parks Department reps again this week to discuss increased measures to patrol the park and keep people from camping in the area. Last night, for example, SPD responded to the park around the same time as the robbery to handle a trespassing incident, according to SPD records.

The street robbery nature of Tuesday night’s hold-up was unusual for the park so far this late summer. The victim told police she tried to pin her purse to the ground when the suspect attempted to snatch it. At that point, the victim said one of the males raised his shirt and brandished what she believed to be a handgun.

The victim quickly gave up her purse and the two males ran from the scene to Broadway where she lost sight of them. A witness on E Olive Way told police the men may have jumped into a dark sedan that sped away westbound at a high rate of speed. The victim described both suspects as black males, about 5’10” with athletic builds and wearing black pants and hoodies at the time of the robbery. The male with the pistol was wearing a red bandana across his face, the victim told police.

A search of the area for the suspects and the vehicle seen leaving E Olive Way were not successful.

Wilson said efforts to clean up the area around Cal Anderson include Nagle Place and the connective passages crossing Seattle Central’s property along Broadway. A decrease in people moving through the area due to heavy construction for the streetcar and the light rail station is one factor. The nooks and crannies and relatively empty backsides of large institutional buildings are another. East Precinct is working with Seattle Parks and the community college to do more to move people along and act before problems start.

“They have problems that they can’t manage alone,” Wilson said.

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18 thoughts on “With patrols increasing, woman says duo robbed her at gunpoint inside Cal Anderson

  1. I live by Cal Anderson and walk my dog every morning in the park and I have noticed more sketchy activity going on in the past few weeks. I shouldn’t have to be nervous about going for a walk at 9am! I was even told over the weekend to leash my dog, but it’s ok for people to camp out for weeks at a time! The police station is only blocks away, it’s time they clean up the park.

  2. I live across the street from the park too. The campers aren’t the problem. It’s pretty unlikely someone will rob you right where they live. It also sounds like the robbery on Tuesday was not campers. I bet if some campers had been near by the robbery wouldn’t have been as likely to happen. In regards to leashes. Everyone breaks the leash rule and drinking rule for that matter. For some reason folks with home think they are entitled to drink in the park and take their dogs of leash. But when a homeless street kid does it, suddenly they are making the park unsafe.

  3. Also, I’ve had to make four 911 calls since moving next to the park 6 months ago. Two of the calls were because of DV situations that seemed to be people who parked next to the park while at nearby bars. I have never had to make a 911 call because of the campers. Is there any real evidence that the campers are increasing crime?

  4. Walked through the park yesterday afternoon and noticed some police activity as well.
    People, this is no place to be a 11pm unless you are looking for trouble.
    Too bad, this park was set be be an example for urban parks. It looks like it’s been taken over by ne’er do wells like every other public place.

  5. Was there yesterday morning with my 3 year old son and couldn’t believe the level of degenerates and scumbags around the park. No Spd presence anywhere and there was an aura of general lawlessness about. I pack a pistol and I’m not a small guy, but wouldn’t feel comfortable if my wife wanted to take our kids down without me. Spd, where the hell are you?

  6. Smart move of the woman not getting shot. I hope she is not too traumatized! This is a bit surprising to me, a gun brandished in Cal Anderson.

    RE campers, the city is talking out of both sides of its face. I have personally joked with the head of all the parks staff (while we were both standing in Cal Anderson park at 8 am) about the numerous campers in the park that morning. I also commented on how funny it was that occupy had to be strictly policed for camping, but only occupy.

    Drunks in the afternoon cause more problems here than campers in my experience.

  7. I walk through (and work out in) CAP all the time, and have even come down on the side of “it really isn’t that bad” in previous threads on the topic…and I have to say, I agree that there is a substantial upsurge in the sketchy element in and around the park recently.

  8. Why, so I can be a victim? No thanks. I keep my guns unloaded and locked in a safe at home. Just because you don’t know how to handle firearms doesn’t mean I don’t.

    Sketch meth heads runnng around back and forth, if homeless, probably due to the glass pipe and the fact they are chillin in a park instead of working like the rest of us.

  9. When I’m home, my guns are unloaded and in my gun safe. When I’m out in public, my weapon is loaded with a round chambered in a concealed holster. My child isn’t strong enough to chamber a round, but you can bet as soon as he is old enough to be able to shoot properly, I will take him to the range and teach him how to shoot and handle himself around weapons. Education, not ignorance. Would rather have him know how to use a gun properly than have him find one at a friends house and have an accident happen.

    Loved when guns weren’t allowed in parks, would have totally prevented last nights robbery because as we all know, criminals obey our gun control laws!!

  10. Sally, you have provided two contradictory statements…first you say the park needs to be cleaned up, then you say that you have no problem with the campers. Which is it?

  11. The “broken window theory” is real, and Cal Anderson Park every summer is a great example of this phenomenon. Camping, drinking, and drug use in the park are all illegal, yet they are rampant and mostly tolerated by the SPD. The transients there may not commit more serious crimes, such as the armed robbery, but they are constantly and persistently breaking the law in other ways.

    Of course, they have a right to be there during daytime hours if they are not guilty of the above activities (unlikely!), but why is the SPD not patrolling at night and kicking the campers out?

    This almost-identical thread appears here every summer/early fall. If history is any guide, another similar thread will be here next summer.

  12. You can’t seriously compare a group of 20-somethings drinking wine out of water bottles or hiding a few beer cans to angry alcoholic homeless people who leave cans (and drug paraphernalia) around the park. As for the leash thing, everybody should keep their pets on a leash but I am less concerned of being attacked/bitten by the dog of somebody who (most likely) takes care of their pets and has it up to date with vaccinations vs some mangey mutt that probably hasn’t eaten in a week and has god-knows-what diseases.