Reported racially motivated hate crimes nearly doubled last year in Seattle

Where racially motivated hate crimes were reported in the city in 2020 (Source: SPD Bias Crimes Dashboard)

A terrible aspect of the COVID-19 crisis seen early here in Seattle has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Bias crimes and race-based hate crime jumped in 2020 and prosecutors say the trend appears to be continuing this year.

The national issue has raised issues in International Districts around the country on policing and how best to respond to the bias crisis.

Here, Seattle Police Department records show a 93% jump in reports of racially motivated hate crimes in 2020 with 405 incidents reported through September, the most recent month available for public reporting. Overall, reported hate crimes were up 72% in the city. Continue reading

Man shot and killed by Seattle Police on waterfront was Seattle U grad student

The 44-year-old man shot and killed in the second police killing in one week last month in Seattle was a graduate student at Seattle University, the school announced.

Derek Hayden was shot and killed by police the night of Tuesday, February 16th on the waterfront.

Police say they were responding to reports of a man armed with a knife reportedly trying to harm himself during a mental crisis around 9:20 PM on Alaskan Way and Seneca when officers opened fire and killed the man. “Police approached the man and attempted to use a less lethal tool, but the device was ineffective,” police said. Continue reading

Overnight burglary temporarily closes 15th Ave E Walgreens

QFC is leaving the street but 15th Ave E’s big chain pharmacy Walgreens is only temporarily closed.

Shoppers and customers hoping to have prescriptions filled found the 500-block pharmacy shuttered Saturday morning.

According to East Precinct radio updates, police were called to the store around 2AM to a break-in. It’s not clear how much damage was done beyond a smashed front glass door and what if anything was taken from the store but police were looking for a suspect wearing a dark hoodie with a white backpack and white gloves believed to have used a crowbar or a baton to bust the glass and break in. The suspect was last seen fleeing through the store’s parking lot, headed south, just before police arrived. Continue reading

Police respond to armed man reported at 23rd and Yesler Catholic Community Services building — UPDATE

(Image: Alex Garland)

A large police response filled the area around 23rd and Yesler’s Catholic Community Services building Tuesday afternoon after a report of an armed man at the facility filled with dozens of people.

Officers located several employees inside the Randolph Carter Center building and were evacuating them from the area after finding the possible gunman down with a gunshot wound, according to East Precinct radio reports. UPDATE: Police were continuing to search for a possible suspect. It’s not clear at this point if the downed man is a victim or the suspect. UPDATE x2: Police have determined the downed man is the shooter.

UPDATE 2:51 PM: Police say the gunman is dead — shooting himself after trying to shoot a woman at the facility:

A man fatally shot himself after attempting to shoot a woman at a housing services program in the Central District Tuesday afternoon. Around 1:15 PM, the man met with the woman in a courtyard of a building in the 100 block 23rd Ave and made threatening statements to her. He then pulled out a gun and fired at the woman, who managed to get away uninjured. The suspect then fatally shot himself. Police surrounded the building, confirmed the suspect was deceased, and searched floor by floor. They located one person who had sustained minor injuries while fleeing from the sounds of gunfire.

UPDATE: In a letter to the community, Archbishop Paul Etienne described the gunman as “a distraught individual.”

“This afternoon, a distraught individual came to the headquarters at the Randolph Carter Family and Learning Center,” Etienne writes. “He threatened the life of a staff member before taking his own life. Mercifully, no one else was harmed and all of the staff were able to safely leave the building.”

In his letter, Etienne expressed his gratitude for the employees and management “who quickly followed all safety protocols and took control” of the situation and thanked the Seattle Police Department and emergency responders.

“Events like this remind us of the stress and pain that unrelenting poverty can bring. Events like this remind us of the real suffering and frustration that coincide with untreated health conditions, Etienne writes. “Events like this remind us of the desperation and hopelessness people feel before taking their own lives — a tragic trend that is exacerbated by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Continue reading

Seattle firefighter in Sawant email threat case charged with identity theft and ‘cyberstalking’

The most serious crime in the investigation of email threats against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant might not end up being the threats.

Seattle Fire Department firefighter Andrew Finseth has been charged with second degree identity theft — a felony — and two counts of misdemeanor cyberstalking. The King County Prosecutor’s office did not pursue a charge of felony harassment. “This charging decision is based on our independent review of the investigation materials referred to us by Seattle Police investigators,” the office said in a statement to media.

Both a felony harassment charge and a second degree identity theft charge in Washington are considered Class C felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

CHS reported here on Finseth’s arrest after police determined the firefighter had accessed the email account of another Seattle Fire employee to send threats targeting Sawant. Continue reading

Central District murder updates: A candlelight vigil at Urban League Village and Seattle’s second deadly police shooting in a week — UPDATE: Officers ID’d

(Image: Renee Raketty)

With reporting by Renee Raketty

A night for community healing in the Central District after last week’s homicide and deadly police shooting included a candlelight vigil outside the Northwest African American Museum in Jimi Hendrix Park where a crowd gathered to remember the life of 23-year-old Anais Valencia.

But Tuesday night also brought another shock of deadly force by law enforcement in Seattle as police shot and killed a man suffering a crisis and reportedly armed with a knife in an incident on the city’s waterfront.

In the Central District in the hours before the second deadly Seattle Police shooting in the week, thoughts were with Valencia and her family.

“For too long we have accepted violence as normal,” said Rev. Harriet Walden of Mothers for Police Accountability. “I want to send my heartfelt condolences to the family and I hope that this can bring them comfort. … I want to wrap them in love tonight.” Continue reading

Seattle Fire Department employee arrested after ‘threats to councilmember’ — UPDATE

Seattle Police have arrested a Seattle Fire Department employee after he allegedly made threats against a member of the Seattle City Council:

Seattle Police have arrested a Seattle Fire Department employee for cyberstalking, computer trespass, and identity theft in an ongoing investigation into threats made to a city councilmember. Seattle Police believe a 42-year-old man, who works for the Seattle Fire Department, sent a series of threatening emails earlier this year to a Seattle City Councilmember. Police initially investigated one SFD employee, which led them to a second employee.

UPDATE 2/15/2021 10:00 AM: A King County judge found probable cause over the weekend to keep Seattle firefighter Andrew Finseth in custody for investigation of felony harassment, second-degree identity theft, and first-degree computer trespass after police say he used another firefighter’s email account to threaten Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant:

 

Continue reading

Federal Way woman identified as victim in deadly Central District attack that led to police shooting

Anais Valencia has been identified as the victim in Tuesday night’s deadly shooting in the Central District. Seattle Police shot and killed her assailant outside the Northwest African American Museum and Urban League Village apartments.

Valencia, 23, and her friend were shot Tuesday as they sat in a car in the parking lot waiting for another friend to grab a laptop inside. Valencia’s friend survived the shooting and was being treated at Harborview. She has not been publicly identified but can be heard on chilling 911 recordings released by police pleading for help for her dying friend. Continue reading

Suspect shot and killed by police in Central District was maintenance man with history of threats at Urban League Village apartments

Police say security video shows Taylor during his deadly shooting attack in the museum and apartment complex parking lot

The suspect in a deadly shooting shot and killed by Seattle Police Tuesday night in the Central District was a resident and maintenance employee at apartments in the building also home to the Northwest African American Museum whose behavior people familiar with the circumstances say had become more and more threatening.

Wednesday night, SPD released an edited video showing clips from building security video that captured the parking lot shooting that left one person dead and another critically wounded and police body-worn video showing what SPD says is Taylor approaching police on S Massachusetts and raising his gun as officers opened up with a hail of gunfire, killing the Black suspect. Continue reading

Burglary suspect faces charges after being busted twice in high-end Capitol Hill business break-ins

A man police say is a prolific but mostly unsuccessful burglar is facing charges in two Capitol Hill break-ins part of a wave of commercial break-ins that have plagued the area.

Reported burglaries were up 60% across the East Precinct in 2020, according to SPD stats.

Anthony Swanson, 22, has been booked into King County Jail six times since May after arrests for investigation of burglary, vehicle theft, and possession of stolen items. The seventh booking in February for failure to appear in court on one of those burglary comes as Swanson has now been charged for three break-ins including two at high-end Capitol Hill retailers. Continue reading