Following just over two weeks of relative calm, the streets around Capitol Hill became a dangerous place early Thursday for pedestrians and drivers alike with a string of robberies reported on the rainy night including a gunpoint carjacking at 10th and Seneca. UPDATE: Police say the incidents may be related.
All information below is preliminary and based on East Precinct radio dispatches and witnesses. We will update when we learn more. UPDATE: SPD said its report system was down earlier today. We’ll try to find out more when the system is again available. UPDATE x3: SPD has released a statement on the robberies:
SPD Robbery Detectives believe some of these incidents may be tied to a recent string of robberies around Capitol Hill, which led the department to increase the number of officers working near the busy nightlife district around the Pike/Pine/Broadway corridor. This week Chief O’Toole and other SPD commanders have engaged in a series of meetings with federal and county law enforcement partners to develop a citywide strategy to combat this trend.
The full statement is at the end of this post.
Police were called to the short strip of E Seneca near IHOP Thursday morning around 12:30 AM after the reported armed carjacking of a 2011 Ford Fusion. The victim told police that two young thieves held him up and stole the silver car and his phone before speeding away on Madison toward I-5. The suspects were described as two teens, both black males with light complexions, one with a “5-inch” afro, the other packing the handgun used in the carjacking. UPDATE: Police say the victim was pistol-whipped and also had his wallet taken during the robbery.
About an hour later, police tracked the victim’s phone to an area three blocks away, according to East Precinct radio dispatches, but we don’t know if either the phone or the car were recovered. There were no reported injuries.
Only 15 minutes before the reported carjacking, a man told police he had been robbed at Boylston and Pine by three black males in their 20s wearing dark clothes who robbed him of his wallet, car keys, and phone. The victim said the males put something hard to his head during the robbery but he could not see if it was a gun. The thieves also reportedly stole his blue rain jacket on the rainy night.
Later in the morning, a group of five males and a female were reported to have held up a victim at gunpoint on the west side of Cal Anderson on Nagle near Howell. The victim walked to the East Precinct front desk at 12th and Pine to report the 1:15 AM crime. The victim told police that the group of five black males and a white female with blonde hair took his wallet and phone at gunpoint before leaving the area northbound on Broadway. One male in the group reportedly wore a red baseball hat. Police were told the thieves may have doubled-back to the south and contacted a group in the Harvard Market parking lot above Pike/Broadway. The group was interviewed and released and there were no arrests.
In another reported incident, just before 4 AM, a male victim waved down an officer near 11th and Union and reported he had been mugged of his phone by three black males in their teens or 20s who had punched him in the head during the strong-arm robbery. One of the suspects was reported to have a scar on his face and was wearing a red shirt and jeans. There were no arrests.
The burst of robberies comes following early September’s push to increase police presence and deploy gang units around Pike/Pine to quell a rise in street crime in the area. In an update to the community council last week, East Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis said the increased patrols would continue. “We understood,” Davis said. “We have increased the presence of police out there tenfold.” Pike/Pine’s ongoing rise in street robberies and violence over the past year is part of a larger crime trend in Central Seattle and downtown, police say.
UPDATE: SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole will be at Thursday night’s East Precinct Advisory Council’s September meeting:
Seattle police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is committed to responding to citizens regarding public safety and life quality in our communities.
This Thursday is your chance to ask the Chief questions and express your concerns.
In order to ensure equal time for all, we are requesting that everyone submit their concerns and questions in advance, if possible. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The important thing is that you attend, we will have opportunities for citizen input at the meeting!
EastPAC Community Meeting
Thursday, September 25th, 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Seattle University, Chardin Hall, room 142
1020 East Jefferson (enter at 11th and Jefferson, park free in front of building)
UPDATE: Here is the full statement from SPD on the robberies:
East Precinct officers are investigating possible connections between a series of armed robberies this week, including two carjackings.
The spree of five robberies started when three young suspects stole a man’s car at gunpointTuesday night in the 1400 block of South Main Street of the Central District. Police believe some of the same young suspects may have been involved in a second car theft shortly about 12:30 AM on Thursday.
In that incident, two suspects approached a man as he was getting in his car near 10th Avenue and Seneca Street on First Hill. The suspects then ordered the man out of his car at gunpoint before pistol-whipping him. The teens took man’s phone and wallet, and fled in his car.
Investigators are also examining whether the suspects in the two carjackings may have been involved in three other robberies on First Hill and Capitol Hill early Thursday:
- A victim reported being robbed around 12:25 AM by three young men as he was walking north on the 1500 block of Boylston Avenue on First Hill. One of them held a gun to the back of his head and told the victim to empty his pockets.
- Less than an hour later, around 1:15 AM, a man reported being robbed at gun point near Nagle Place and East Howell Street on Capitol Hill. The victim told police the suspect held a handgun to his neck and took items from his pockets. The victim said the suspect was accompanied by four other men and one woman.
- At 3:30 AM a victim flagged down a police officer to report he had been robbed by three men while walking near 11th Avenue and East Union Street on Capitol Hill. The suspects punched the victim in the head and took his cellphone before fleeing. The victim described one suspect as a black male, around 20, with a scar on his face wearing a red T-shirt and jeans.
SPD Robbery Detectives believe some of these incidents may be tied to a recent string of robberies around Capitol Hill, which led the department to increase the number of officers working near the busy nightlife district around the Pike/Pine/Broadway corridor.
This week Chief O’Toole and other SPD commanders have engaged in a series of meetings with federal and county law enforcement partners to develop a citywide strategy to combat this trend.