Troopers responded to reports of rocks/debris being thrown at cars on WB I90 near Rainier Ave around 4 PM. In total 7 vehicles were struck. WSP was able to arrest a 31 year old Seattle male whom we believe is responsible. Here are some pictures of the damage to 2 cars. pic.twitter.com/nKUP6I3gwM
— Trooper Rick Johnson (@wspd2pio) July 21, 2021
A small surveillance plane buzzed large circles around Capitol Hill and the Central District early Thursday morning as crews prepared to remove encampments above the I-90 and I-5 interchange area in the core of Seattle after weeks of rock and debris throwing incidents freeway endangering motorists.
The continued surveillance and camp removal follows the East Precinct’s arrest Tuesday of a man for throwing rocks at cars just before rush hour near the eastbound onramp to I-90 from Rainier Ave S. The arrest is one of at least five the King County Prosecutor’s office says have been taken into custody in recent weeks for the bizarre and dangerous acts. A sixth person was taken into custody but released, officials say, after the Washington State Patrol determined the suspect “was not the person they thought he was.”
Tuesday’s incident required an “help the officer” alert to be issued as police sped to the scene as the suspect began fighting during his arrest by WSP. Seattle Police says “a loaded 9mm magazine” fell from the man’s waistband as he was being apprehended. The area and nearby encampments were searched but a weapon was not located.
Thursday, encampments near the freeway interchange area — the northern edge of the area referred to as “The Jungle” — are scheduled to be swept in an emergency action involving the state and city crews.
“The debris and rock-throwing in proximity to specific encampments off of I-90 and I-5 is a public safety threat that we take very seriously and must be addressed immediately,” the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a statement
While some of those detained were reported to be living in nearby encampments, it’s not clear that everyone arrested so far in the incidents is associated with the camps.
Nicholas Sousa was arrested July 10th after a witness identified him as a rock thrower. Prosecutors say he was caught with bolt cutters and pruning shears and had gone through a fence to enter restricted WSDOT property along the freeway:
The surveillance flights, meanwhile, have continued including Thursday night’s circling beginning around 2 AM and continuing through the night. The Washington State Patrol said last month it was using the reconnaissance to identify suspects in an ongoing string of people throwing rocks and debris onto area freeways. Flights have continued including a session early Tuesday by a special Pierce County Sheriff’s plan procured through a Homeland Security Grant and outfitted with technology including “Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera, satellite street-overlay mapping system, video recorder and real-time video down-link capabilities.” Pierce County says its aircraft is used to assist “local, state, and federal agencies with Search and Rescue (SAR) missions, counter drug efforts, radio communications support, surveillance, aerial photograph, patrol operations and other requests for assistance by various governmental agencies.”
Other flights are conducted by WSP aircraft including Plane N305DK, the Cessna that became infamous during CHOP for droning on and on around the city. CHS reported here earlier this year on video procured through public disclosure requests that showed the surveillance capabilities of the aircraft, the only plane capable of this type of video surveillance in the WSP fleet that is deployed across the state as needed. “It depends on where there are issues. And where it is needed most,” a WSP spokesperson told CHS last summer.
We’ll check in with WSP to find out if the flights will end now that arrests have been made and the camps near the area are being cleared.
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