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Pike/Pine club owner says gang ‘terrorizing’ Capitol Hill — UPDATE: SPD looking for groups responsible for 22 street robberies

As police officials have said they plan to continue increased patrols in the area following a call from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce for more SPD presence on the streets of Pike/Pine, a prominent Capitol Hill business owner has sent a letter about “gang activity” on Capitol Hill to Mayor Ed Murray, city officials, local business owners, and local media outlets including CHS.

“I’m writing to plead with you Mr Mayor, that something be done about the gang (usually described as Somali) that is ever present on Capitol Hill,” says Neumos and Lost Lake partner Jason Lajeunesse about what he says have been two years of harassment and violence in Pike/Pine.

Dear Mr Mayor, photoI’m writing this email on behalf of the capitol hill neighborhood, local business owners, my friends who have been jumped, my patrons who are threatened and abused, my employees who have been assaulted, the residents and the women of the neighborhood who are being harassed and threatened daily. 

I’m writing to plead with you Mr Mayor, that something be done about the gang (usually described as Somali) that is ever present on Capitol Hill. It’s disheartening to me that these guys have been terrorizing our neighborhood for well over a year, maybe 2 years and this CONTINUES to go on. SOMONE IS GOING TO GET RAPED OR KILLED and SPD AND MAYORS OFFICE WILL BE TO BLAME.

Incidents have been exploding lately, day and night. We just had an assault INSIDE the restaurant (Lost Lake) on Saturday, AT BRUNCH? This is just ONE of many many many incidents. Below is a text from a concerned friend, neighbor, business owner who reached out to me today about an incident LAST NIGHT.

I don’t know who all should be on this thread, but I’ve cc’d people I know have a vested interest in this community.

We should be very afraid for the safety of those we care about, our neighbors and those who continue to be victimized at this point. It’s only getting worse. It’s clear that these guys have no fear of reprimand. It’s clear they see mayor’s office and spd standing by doing nothing as they terrorize our neighborhood.

Mr. Mayor, How long are you going to let this persist? What is the plan of action? Is there a plan of action? How can we help you help us?

Jason Lajeunesse, concerned neighbor.

(CHS has removed first names from the image included in the letter)

Lajeunesse also produces the annual Capitol Hill Block Party, the music festival that takes over blocks of E Pike every summer.

UPDATE: Here’s the Mayor’s office response.

We’re looking into the Saturday incident Lajeunesse references in his email. On Friday, a 25-year-old man was arrested for assault and suspected drug crimes after a disturbance at Lost Lake Cafe.

Just before 5 PM, staff called to police to report a man who “would not leave” the 10th Ave restaurant. According to the SPD report on the assault, the suspect and another male were sitting in the back of Lost Lake “causing a disturbance” and being “verbally aggressive” with staff and had pushed an employee “in the face.” The suspect who allegedly pushed the employee was taken into custody. Inside the holding cell at the East Precinct, according to the report, the suspect could be seen on surveillance video removing a small baggie from his underwear and tossing it on the cell floor. Police say the packet weighed in at 0.2 grams of methamphetamine. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for investigation of assault and drug possession. UPDATE: The suspect ended up only being booked for the drugs and was released from jail Saturday night. We’ll follow up to find out if he’ll face charges for the meth. UPDATE x2: The suspect has a lengthy criminal record including his 2013 guilty plea for being a felon in possession of a firearm:Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 4.46.41 PM

Lajeunesse tells CHS that he believes foot patrols in Pike/Pine “need to happen” —

The restaurant, bar and entertainment community along with the retail and developers pay significant city b and o taxes. The city needs to use some of those resources to increase police presence on capitol hill. They make money from all of this growth, and they need to protect it. The East precinct in understaffed and under funded.

But the business owner said he doesn’t believe foot patrols alone will enough to battle what he calls “organized crime” going on in the area. “They should treat it as such, and with a sense of urgency,” he writes.

Earlier this month CHS reported that August had tallied more reported Capitol Hill robberies than any other month in SPD’s records as. Injuries have been mostly limited to scratches and bruises but one victim was nearly killed early in the month when he was grazed by a gunshot during one botched robbery attempt in Cal Anderson. Last week, thieves threatened to shoot a DJ as they robbed the victim of more than $3,000 in gear outside The Odd Fellows building.

In addition to the annual street crime concerns, there have been growing calls for more to be done about anti-LGTBQ violence and assaults as the melting pot that is Capitol Hill nightlife continues to grow.

UPDATE: SPD reports that patrols have been “stepped up” as detectives are investigating groups believed to have been involved with 22 street robberies on Capitol Hill:

SPD has stepped up patrols around Capitol Hill as detectives search for suspects in a string of nearly two dozen robberies around the Pike/Pine area.

Police believe two or three groups of suspects have been targeting nightlife patrons near Broadway and Pike and around Cal Anderson Park in 22 different robberies. The string of robberies began around August 9th, and have occurred between 11:30 PM and 4 AM, primarily between the hours of midnight and 2 AM. In many of the cases, suspects stole cellphones and wallets from their victims, sometimes after attacking them or holding them at gunpoint. Detectives don’t currently believe the groups are working together.

Many victims have struggled to provide police with a clear description of their assailants, as the suspects often strike quickly and outside of well-traveled areas. However, police are investigating a possible connection between a recent arrest and the string of robberies, and are working with prosecutors on the case. We’ll provide more details on that case as it develops.

SPD Robbery Detectives are asking anyone who may have witnessed a robbery in the Capitol Hill area—or anyone with video or photos that could help police identify suspects—to contact the SPD Robbery Unit at (206) 684-5535.

East Precinct commanders will be meeting with Capitol Hill Business Association and working with businesses and residents around Capitol Hill as detectives continue to investigate.

As detectives search for these suspects, please remember to be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, update your smartphone’s software to allow you to lock it down or track it if it’s stolen, and always call 911 if you see anything suspicious.

While the emphasis patrols will be welcomed, they seem to come too late as another late summer crime wave has passed through the neighborhood. Many of the perpetrators are minors including the suspect arrested after the Cal Anderson shooting. A teen allegedly attempting to flee from police in that August 1st hold-up was caught with a phone and wallet belonging to the victim. The teen suspect attempted to flee but slipped and fell as police moved in and found the gun in bushes. Charged with first degree robbery, the suspect turned 18 this week.

With public schools beginning their years on Wednesday and more typical Seattle weather — ie, rain — becoming more common, crime on Capitol Hill will likely face a few suppressants beyond the local police force’s efforts.

UPDATE: SPD’s precinct front desks will again be staffed 24 hours a day. In a message on Twitter, the department’s spokesperson said new Chief O’Toole “believes it’s a priority to have the precincts open and accessible to the public.”

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90 thoughts on “Pike/Pine club owner says gang ‘terrorizing’ Capitol Hill — UPDATE: SPD looking for groups responsible for 22 street robberies

  1. What?? These guys come into a business, harass and assault a server, and don’t get charged? WTF is wrong with out Prosecutor.

    • Yeah, blame the Mayor’s office all you want, but the real enabler here is the City Attorney’s office. Pothead Pete has got to go.

      • I thought felonies were under the purview of the County Prosecuting Attorney. I thought the city attorney and city courts were for low level crap like parking and civil matters involving the city, That’s what the city attorney’s website seems to say. So Pothead Pete may be a blot on the landscape but he has nothing to do with these serious crimes.

      • The City Attorney handles domestic violence assaults, misdemeanor assaults, discharge of weapon (aka driveby shootings that don’t hit someone), DUI, etc etc. Municipal Court handles hundreds of criminal cases each month.

    • It’s outrageous that this guy was not charged with assault, or at least harassment. And, with his lengthy criminal record (17 warrants!….several felony convictions, including one just last year), why wasn’t he in prison in the first place? Sometimes it’s really true that this liberal city is very soft on crime.

      • If they are Somali nationals and convicted of felonies, why aren’t they being hauled off to the airport with a one way travel voucher back to Somalia? The neighborhood and the country are better off without them.

      • Who decides to bring these awful people here in the first place? I can guarantee these white saviours don’t live in the neighborhoods they get dumped into.

      • It would be nice if a felony conviction = automatic deportation, but it doesn’t. And when ICE tried to troll the jails they were accused of profiling.

      • Calhoun – Who says he wasn’t charged? He may have been charged in the misdemeanor court and bailed, we don’t know without a name. And 17 warrants in 7 years is NOTHING. Honestly. KCJ houses people who’ve had more than 100 bookings with most being on warrants. Homeless people frequently fail to appear (hard to show up when you have neither a calendar or a clock), that alone isn’t evidence of future violence. This guy’s history is all pretty old – is that because he’s been in prison and just got out? Lots of details not included here.

      • No calendar or clock? HA! The number of bums I see walking around with cell phones in this town, that’s laughable.

      • P.S. And bumped down to SMC because conviction is much more likely, and far less expensive, than trying to push through a felony charge.

      • Clearly you don’t work with a transient population. The “bums” you see with smartphones don’t represent the entirety of the transient population in Seattle.

      • The media reports (including this blog post) I have seen say that he has only been charged so far with drug possession.

        It’s amazing to me that you are minimizing this guy’s serious criminal history and multiple convictions. Past criminal behavior is often predictive of future criminal behavior.

      • Not minimilizing at all. Just stating that if you’re going back to 2007 in the warrant count, sorry, that’s nothing. The courts usually only count the last 2 years because homeless/transient populations DO fail to appear. That alone isn’t an indicator of threat. And why are we not getting the guy’s name so we can look at he misdemeanor court record? FREQUENTLY what isn’t filed in the felony court IS bumped down to SMC.

      • King County Jail booking history is public record. Why not post his name so all can see who it is and what he has been charged with? Also, the WHY as regards not charging frequently involves the reluctance of a victim/witness to participate in prosecution. Again, providing the arrestee’s name would allow the community to ask the City Pros why charges are not being filed.

  2. It’s infuriating that through lack of patrols, enforcement, and prosecution, that a group of thugs has identified an easy “mark” in the population that lives, shops, and socializes in the neighborhood.

    Failure to place harsh penalties on these behaviors is encouraging more violence.

    Step it up Mr. Mayor and SPD.

  3. I recently shared that I had several treks across the entertainment core at 3am and saw groups of guys who were clearly up to no good. They were not loitering partygoers from the evening socializing with one another. These are opportunists looking for prey. SPD needs to make these folks feel less welcome. Right now it seems to be a free for all.

    • “Not loitering partygoers from the evening socializing with one another. These are opportunists looking for prey”. I couldn’t have said it better myself; I had an experience on Friday that made the hair on my neck stand up. A lone loiterer on the corner, but his vibe was insanely predatory. After taking in his physical description (just in case) and making direct eye contact, I sped up, goaled for the busier corner one block up… as a single woman (and I’m sure many men do- or should- feel this way) this made my skin crawl.

      I am VERY careful whenever I’m walking alone on the Hill now. I never have my phone visible, I make direct eye contact and take in my surroundings. Whenever possible I take an uber, even if it’s just a few blocks. If I can stay alert hopefully I can stay safe.

      • Hey Mike Wallace,

        African Americans are more likely to be arrested and imprisoned than whites because they are who the police focus on:

        Get treated like a criminal every day of your life, and see what choices you wind up making.

        And if you’re looking at roving, pillaging gangs of criminals, look to (mostly white) Wall Street financiers, who crashed the economy and still profited handsomely. I believe this is what Ms. Sawant was trying to address by campaigning to raise the minimum wage, while Meinert fulminated helplessly into the wind.

        You may now return to reading NewsMax.

      • The Idiot Sawant is just an attention whore. That’s why she never made it any higher in academia than The Broadway Junior College and Beauty Academy.

      • You do love your statistics. Seems whites are covered according to the FBI:

        Arrests, by Race, 2011
        In 2011, 69.2 percent of all individuals arrested were white, 28.4 percent were black, and 2.4 percent were of other races.
        Of all juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) arrested in 2011 in the nation, 65.7 percent were white, 32.0 percent were black, and 2.3 percent were of other races.
        Nearly 70 percent (69.7) of all adults (18 years of age and over) arrested in 2011 were white, 27.9 percent were black, and 2.3 percent were of other races.
        White individuals were arrested more often for violent crimes than individuals of any other race, accounting for 59.4 percent of those arrests.
        The percentages of white adults and black adults arrested for murder were similar, with 48.2 percent being white, and 49.4 percent being black.
        Juveniles who were black accounted for 51.4 percent of juvenile arrests for violent crimes.
        Juveniles who were white accounted for 62.4 percent of juvenile arrests for property crimes.
        Of the juveniles arrested for driving under the influence, 91.6 percent were white.
        Juveniles who were white accounted for 72.9 percent of the persons under 18 who were arrested for arson in 2011.

      • your statistics are just dandy except for one thing. If it says 29% of the arrested population is black, there’s just one problem. Black people are only 1/10 of the population of the USA, therefore, your own statistic says that blacks are 3 times more likely than whites to be arrested.

      • We have laws for white collar criminals. I’m white and I despise white collar crime, and we know who is responsible – Republicans and sellout democrats.

        HOWEVER, white collar crime does NOT excuse minority crime. If minorities had any brains, they would go after the people who are really victimizing them, not the first person they come across, or some average white person.

        Excusing criminality is such utter BS, and it is at the center of why black people are stuck in park, while every other race pulls ahead. Yes, the white men exploited the world, and enslaved blacks among others and each other. Grow up, and let it go and get a job and an education, and stop expecting to find a paycheck in a rap song, a blunt and a bunch of blathering about your oppression.

    • Dave Meinert is an opportunist and a phony. He’s trying hard to turn a very average career as a music promoter into one as a politician. Give me a break.

      • Bullshit. I live on 12th and Pike, I’ve lived in the Neighbourhood for 13 years. I no longer feel safe after about 1030pm on Friday and Saturday. If it’s not the sketchy dudes that case the street, it’s the hordes of drunken meatheads spoiling for a fight.

        I’m glad someone spoke up. I’m about up give up and move.

      • Doesn’t Meinert manage one of the biggest new bands in the world? 2x Grammy nominated. And started and ran the Capitol Hill Block Party for over a decade? Seems fairly successful. Is he running for something? Haven’t seen that. Seems like a business owner worried about his neighborhood.

  4. The perceived racial component to police response makes enforcement a challenge. It is much less risky for mayor and police to employ a reactive strategy. We cant afford a Ferguson here in Seattle.

  5. If I run into these little boys, I have a 9mm waiting to pop between their eyes. Stupid wannabes don’t deserve mercy.
    SPD too chicken shit to do anything, then it’s up to the locals to keep ourselves safe.

      • I’m a liberal and will never change, but the one problem I have with my fellow liberals is their inability to face the reality of criminals. Vigilance and deterrence is a strategy to keep you from feeling a lot of pain either yourself or for a loved one. Living in a bubble, thinking nothing will ever happen to you is stupid and not an option for me personally. I have known criminals, and I’ve known worthless scum people of all pay grades. Violence and the threat of violence is not acceptable and people who decide its ok to perp it should be stopped dead in their tracks.

      • Not to mention one more gun in the hands of criminals when this cowboy is suddenly confronted with four or five at once before he has time to even unholster, let alone unsafety, aim and fire.

      • Armed vigilantes who do not own the fact that a huge percentage of shots fired hit outside the target, are far more disturbing to me than any robber.

    • While I generally disapprove of guns I can’t deny that I wish one of these thugs ran into someone who concealed carried some day.

  6. I am all for those patrols but let’s specify they need to be foot patrols. Being inside a car limits many of their senses (like any other car drivers). On the other hand, I am glad and sad that I bought some mace and pocket knife for when fall and winter quarter school starts. I hope I won’t have a need for them.

    • AGREED. I can’t tell you how much safer it would feel to have foot patrols in the 1-4 am time slot around pike/pine and all the way from R Place to 12th.

    • Please, please, please don’t consider a pocket knife serious deterrent against street crime. It’s nearly useless in a surprise encounter; at best it will result in supplying a new knife to lowlifes, and at worst it can escalate the situation to the point that you could end up seriously injured or dead. The same generally goes for handguns, as well. Be smart about valuables you’re carrying, such as laptops, keeping sensitive information backed up and current working files on a keychain usb drive. Use your wallet for cash and non-sensitive items, with credit and key cards stored in an inconspicuous location on your person. I carry a decoy wallet, myself. If the muggers are threatening violence, that Macbook or iPhone can save your life- just hand it over. Above all, though, is making sure you don’t look or act like a target. Keep your eyes out of your phone in the dark, headphones in your pocket. Stick to areas with lots of visibility and good lighting. Intoxicated states dramatically increase your vulnerability, so if you plan to drink heavily and stumble home, consider cabbing it instead, or walking with less inebriated company.
      Crime isn’t fair, and being a victim sucks, but it sucks a lot less if you don’t get stabbed as well.

      • I’n not advocating acceptance of crime, but I don’t believe the problem of street crime can be solved by wielding feeble weapons in the dark. I believe the urge to arms comes from the same place that finds “quick fix” solutions appealing. Weapons are mere talismans of power unless you have specific training that prepares you to use them safely and effectively to defuse the encounter. Someone who follows a violent and lawless lifestyle is far less likely to be concerned about whatever you’re bringing to the encounter than you are about what they’ll do to you in the process of taking what they want. The problem is not fixed by escalating the opportunities for violence at the most dangerous point of each encounter, and until it is fixed, those encounters will continue to happen. The problem is fixed by making the entire neighborhood less appealing to predators, and that is achieved by empowering more people to use their neighborhood and deny predators the opportunities for isolation and evasion that they rely on.

      • “empowering more people to use their neighborhood and deny predators the opportunities for isolation and evasion that they rely on”
        I think this is at the heart of the issue. When fear is created, less people walk around neighborhoods and parks like Cal Anderson late at night making them even more dangerous for the few that can’t afford a cab, uber car or doesn’t want to worry about a stolen bicycle. It’s a loop that just just amplifies itself and makes cities dangerous and empty late at night.

  7. How bout shoe plain-clothed officers possibly leaving one of the night clubs especially dressed in sure fitting to the neighborhood. Set up stings and get these idiots off the street.

  8. CHances are this gang of foreign thugs probaby has friends in high places. That’s usually the way this works. They are selling/importing drugs for someone with pull. That’s whyt hey are acting so flagrantly. This city is run by soft idiots.

  9. These types of robberies were happening at Golden Gardens this summer as well. The cops are too busy filling the jail with bogus Domestic Violence and DUI cases to bother with anything else. Back in the day we would handle this ourselves, but surely we would be prosecuted faster than the thugs. SPD has no problem beating and arresting protesters, but ask them to go after armed drug dealers and thieves, and they do nothing. Pathetic.

  10. I’ve seen a lot of sketchy shit going on in the alleyway between the tennis courts at Cal Anderson and the businesses on the other side (RockBox).

  11. It’s a fairly compact area that seems to be the hardest hit (and, there’s a police station basically in the middle of it!). Am I being too naive in believing that it would only take a few officers (on foot) to keep the vast majority of this shit from going down? If there are highly visible (and obviously well known) gangs hunting for victims in these blocks between midnight and 3 am, then a few pairs of foot patrols would make their criminal activity completely unprofitable. Take a cop or two out of their cars and place them on Cal Anderson only duty.

  12. In my 20+ years living on the hill on Bellevue ave between Pike and Pine all my bad experiences with menacing individuals have been African American males who are not individuals I recognize as living in this area. Just sayin…

    • I totally agree. Same experience in my 27 years on the hill – it’s almost ALWAYS the groups (3-6) of young, black males after midnight that are acting all preditory. I have been mugged twice on foot since the late 80s – both times it was a group of teenaged black kids. The East African element is more recent, but I have also observed them vandalising property and parked cars in the Pike/Pine area.

  13. You know what might be a great idea? Why not put the police parking lot (both patrol cars as well as the personal vehicles that the officers drive to and from their jobs at the East Precinct) in closer proximity to Cal Anderson? Say, between the courts and Broadway rather than way above all of the “action?” Perhaps if the police had to access their vehicles (as well as protect them) in a more sketchy area, we would reduce the crime at no cost to either the precinct or the taxpayers. It would be the equivalent of foot patrols gratis. Just a thought.

    • That seems like it might work. We’d have massive complaints about the loss of close-to-B’way parking, I guess, but I’d rather have a patrolled park.

  14. Alrighty then! After another night of very loud and angry people running around Cal Anderson Park and ruining my sleep, I’ll chime in. First off, WHEN is SPD going to start this extra-patrolling thing? ‘Cause they ain’t doin’ it yet. I don’t know anything about Samoans or black people in gangs or anything like that, but I’m here to testify that on the north end of CAP it’s young white guys that are making a freakin’ ruckus all the time.

    DAMN…come on, even ONE cop on a park patrol could do something about this.

    I’m ugly without my beauty sleep, and my beauty sleep is getting harder and harder to get. Dear City of Seattle ~ DO SOMETHING.

  15. Now that I’ve had some coffee I’m not quite so ugly ^ …OK, I’ve done some homework now and read more about the problem. So…Somali, not Samoan…OK. Like a lot of people I feel very leery about wording that targets a particular group of people. On the other hand, if this situation has been ongoing for two years then yeah, time to cut the crap and do something about it.

    And now, I’m going to go pick up all the broken glass and garbage people left in my yard last night. Have a nice day.

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  18. This is a very real problem. Since the disintegration of Pioneer Square into what looks like some post-apocalyptic drug-fueled wasteland, Capital Hill’s Harvard Ave – 12th Ave blocks, between Pike and Pine, have seen rapid growth in regard to night life. With that growth has come outside money, people who care very little about the neighborhood, and a great deal more crime. I feel much less safe walking around those areas at night than even 2-3 years ago. There is also the directly adjacent issue of a spike in heroin and meth use in the area in the last 5 years.

    For all this, I’ve yet to see one single officer on foot in the area, despite there being a station smack dab in the middle of those blocks.

  19. Hmm black guys committing crimes in an urban area, liberal pansies too afraid to prosecute because they don’t want to be seen as racist. What’s the problem? Sounds like Seattle to me.

    • I hope you keep that in mind when Capitol hill (the 37th) votes in immigration at all cost Pramilla Jaypal. Frankly I dont care anymore Seattle courts crazy and extremist people and gives them a seat at the table they will find out how easy it is for tax payers and employers to move.

  20. My girlfriend was followed home and harassed by a male that may be associated with this group. He started following her right before Cal Anderson and luckily I was driving by in an uber and got to swoop in and save her before anything bad happened. We need to get the riff raff off of the hill.

  21. Arm yourselves and FIGHT back. It’s been at least a year of this happening daily you said. The cops will almost always show up after a crime has occurred if they show up at all. With how much the situation has deteriorated as you describe it is too risky to not arm yourselves.

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  27. “The suspect has a lengthy criminal record including his 2013 guilty plea for being a felon in possession of a firearm:”
    wow… pleading guilty to a charge of felon in possession of a firearm in 2013, yet 2014 isnt even over yet and he was out of prison.. I really want to meet this guy’s attorney.
    but anyhow, all this gibberish going on in this thread about socio-economic disadvantages and all that crap.. people who make excuses for these scumbags are the ones i would say deserve to get robbed. you need a reality check to snap you out of your pro-thug stupor. may your tongues be blackened by the crust of a gangbanger’s anus.

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