SEATTLE – Employees at Carter Volkswagen told Q13 News they are still reeling after a customer was violently raped on their property by a homeless man.
“This will be a daily conversation for us,” said executive manager Jennifer Moran. “We’re looking out for each other and our customers.”
Court records say the suspect admitted to the crime and also indicate he is homeless.
“It’s been a pretty difficult week and our main focus and our thoughts are with the customer who was assaulted,” said Moran. "It’s just been, it’s been really hard to wrap our minds around this."
Moran says it’s not the first time they have dealt with issues surrounding homelessness: issues like people using the bathroom in public, finding needles in planter boxes – plus one of their employees has been assaulted on the job walking from one lot to another.
Court documents say a customer drove her car to the dealership early Monday morning for maintenance and then went to the bathroom but that’s when police say someone she didn’t know followed her inside, locked the door and choked and raped her.
It wasn’t until employees heard a struggle that the victim broke free of the assailant’s clutches and was able to unlock the door. That’s when employees rushed to her rescue.
“We are so proud the employees that went looking for her because she didn’t show up for her shuttle ride,” said Moran. “They heard her in the bathroom and got the door open and apprehended him and detained him until the police arrived. I’m so incredibly proud of the human beings who work here.”
Christopher Edward Teel was arrested when car dealership employees heard the assault and ran to help the woman.
He was charged Wednesday with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment. He was being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. His arraignment is set for May 30.
Court documents list the 24-year-old's last known address as homeless.
Teel also has other criminal histories in Seattle. More court records show a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up to court for a criminal trespassing allegation originating in 2016.
Moran says Carter VW is focusing their concerns on the safety and security of everyone who visits the dealership.
“We have employees walking around Ballard from 7 a.m. to 8 at night, we have various lots and buildings and just my main focus is making sure that they’re safe and that our customers are safe,” said Moran.