Ballard residents ask if more could have been done to prevent rape at car dealership

SEATTLE -- Seattle police say a homeless man with an outstanding bench warrant raped a woman at a Ballard car dealership Monday morning, and now neighbors are asking if more could have been done to bring the man to justice before the violent crime.

On Wednesday night, the streets of Ballard were filled with people shopping, eating and drinking, many completely unaware of the disturbing crime that  happened just a few blocks away days earlier.

“A little bit scary, makes me reconsider walking around alone at night,” said Michelle Archer, who was riding her bike near where police say 24-year-old Christopher Teel raped a woman at a car dealership on Leary Way.

Seattle police had dealt with Teel before.

Christopher Teel was charged Wednesday with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, two days after he is accused of attacking a woman in the temporary restroom of a Ballard car dealership. Photographs of Teel appeared in The Seattle Times in November, accompanying a story about the Ballard Nickelsville homeless camp. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)

Court documents show Teel had a Seattle Municipal Court bench warrant for his arrest since March 2017.

The previous summer, he was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor, after allegedly squatting in a Magnolia home; he then got the warrant when he failed to show up in court.

“If they have this information, why wasn’t he apprehended earlier?" asked Linnea Beasley, who lives near where the crime occurred.

A big reason is the sheer number of people with warrants issued against them. City officials say as of Wednesday, there were 11,314 bench warrants active in Seattle.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said officers check to see if people have active warrants during things like traffic stops, or other incidents.

But with thousands of people wanted every day, he said, officers can’t actively pursue everyone with a warrant.

Teel has been charged with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment. He is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bail.