Story Summary

Westlake Park

Westlake Park, a small patch of land that is 0.1 acre in size, is located in downtown Seattle. The park extends from 4th Avenue to between Pike and Pine Streets, and includes a former portion of Westlake Avenue. The park has come under scrutiny by police and residents as crime has risen in the area.

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Local News

13-year-old in court for brutal beating in Westlake Park

SEATTLE — A 13-year-old boy will be in juvenile court Thursday, charged in the brutal beating of a concierge/security guard in Westlake Park.

Police said that on July 18 the boy was joined in the attack by several others who punched and beat the man until he lost consciousness. When the victim was on the ground, police said the 13-year-old kicked him in the head several times and tried to steal his wallet.

westlakeThe boy is also charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of first-degree theft for another attack a month later near 3rd Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle.

The victim, Joseph Crudo, is filing suit against the city. He is claiming the city and mayor’s office didn’t do enough to protect the public from the dangers around Westlake Park. Recently, there have also been calls for permanent officers dedicated to patrolling Westlake Park.

Local News

Street ‘psychic’ scams woman in downtown Seattle

SEATTLE — Around  Westlake Center in  Seattle, some things are given — and plenty is sold. Mishka Hong, 21, found out there are also those who will take.

Hong admits she was feeling down this week when a woman approached her, wanting to give her a psychic reading.

“I felt kind of hopeless and I was like, sure, why not?” said Hong.

The so-called psychic told Hong she had a curse on her and that evil spirits were trying to possess her. She also told the young woman it would cost a lot of money to remove them.

“It would be $3,000,” Hong said. “But she said she’d give me a discount, for only $1,000.”

Hong was then led to an ATM, where she withdrew her last $60 and gave it to the “psychic” for her reading.

Hong works at the Harley Store downtown, and when her boss, Julie Hart, heard about what happened, she was convinced Hong had been scammed.

“She’s young, she’s new to the city, and they were very convincing,” said Hart. “They caught her at a time when she was vulnerable.”

Hart told Hong to call the psychic to the store, and she showed up, this time, with her two sisters. Hart said the trio seemed nervous when they noticed the surveillance cameras in the store. She also said the group had no business license or any credentials.

Once again, they pushed Hong for money, telling her she would need to pay $100 for each year of her life to remove the curse on her. But she had done some research online and now knew that cleansing a curse is a typical psychic scam.

She now feels lucky she only lost $60, but wants to warn others there are people downtown posing as psychics who want to take every last dollar you have.

“It’s definitely a lesson,” said Hong. “Don’t talk to strangers.”

Seattle police say they haven’t heard of psychic scams in the area, but a woman who owns her own psychic businesses downtown said the group has been in town for about a year. She also told Q13FOXNews that the scammers are from out of state, and that they are scaring away clients and hurting her business of 20 years.

WestlakeSEATTLE — King County prosecutors have charged a 13-year-old boy with robbery in the brutal beating of a man who works as a concierge and a security guard in Westlake Park.

Police say that on July 18 the boy was joined in the attack by several others who punched and beat the man until he lost consciousness. When the victim was on the ground, police say, the 13-year-old kicked him in the head several times and tried to steal his wallet.

The boy is also charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of first-degree theft for another attack a month later near 3rd Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle.

The boy is locked up in county’s juvenile detention center.

SEATTLE — Seattle police say violent crime in the downtown core is down big-time from the same period last year.

11111“The good news is we’re one of two precincts with double-digit reductions in crime, including violent crime,” Seattle Police Capt. Jim Dermody said.

That may be true but, all of the people we talked with say they don’t always feel safe there.

“It’s become a lot worse than it used to be,” downtown resident Jason Smith said.

“I think you have to be careful when it’s early in the morning or late at night,” downtown worker Ellyce Shulman said.

“It depends on the day. Some days it’s worse. Some days are better than others.  I’d say later in the week is definitely worse than the beginning of the week and later in the afternoon is definitely worse than early morning,” downtown worker Megan Moilanen said.

That is an analysis of crime, danger and insecurity steeped in fear, fear that one could easily become a victim on downtown streets and precautions need to be taken.

“After yesterday’s incident I have debated getting some mace or pepper spray. But I just don’t make eye contact with anyone that seem they might be threatening,” Moilanen said.

The problems are well-documented and some caught on surveillance video.

A man was attacked in an alley, knocked out cold and robbed.

A woman had her cell phone stolen. It’s a crime happening so often, it has a name; Apple picking.

Most recently a man exposed himself himself on a Metro bus.

“In the morning I don’t take the bus anymore because walking down Pine really early is just … I’ve had some bad experiences,” Shulman said.

“There’s a lot more people out at night.  Living downtown you just hear it; people screaming, gunshots all the time,” Smith said.

One day after a King County Metro bus driver was shot in the face, Third Avenue was packed with police and deputies, even Homeland Security agents out in force trying to keep the peace.

Neighbors would like to see that presence all the time and a safer downtown experience for locals and tourists alike.

“I grew up here so I know what it used to be like and I know what it’s like now and it’s not someplace you want to take your kids like right down here, Westlake. They just put a kid’s park in there and I wouldn’t take my kids there,” Smith said.

Mayor Mike McGinn says cleaning up downtown is a work in progress

“We are deploying officers to the places they’re needed most based upon where the data is and that includes a greater presence in these areas; Third Avenue, Westlake Park, other downtown areas,” McGinn said.

Moreover, more help is on the way. SPD is in the process of hiring 30 new officers.

They should be trained and on the street to protect and serve by next summer.

teensmokingSEATTLE — Seattle city officials are considering a ban on dogs and smoking in downtown’s Westlake Park.  The city’s park board discussed it at a meeting Thursday night.  They’ve received about two dozen emails from people who live around the park, and nearby businesses, who are asking for the ban.  It stems from a new children’s play area, which was installed in the park last winter.

Those who are complaining say smoke often drifts into the play area, and there are a number of pit bulls who are frequently walked in the park.

Smoking and dogs are banned at all play areas throughout the city, but the new park is a legal gray area.  The board of park commissioners has asked staffers to analyze the issue, and report back to the board at its September 26th meeting.

SEATTLE — Businesses belonging to the Downtown Seattle Association complained in a letter to City Hall Wednesday that there is too much violence and asked for more police officers to patrol the streets

spdThis summer, a woman was savagely kicked and punched in middle of the day at a crowded Westlake Park.

In another attack, a man was stabbed in the neck during a fight on 3rd and Union.

In front of Pike Place Market, a group viciously attacked  someone at a crosswalk.

Just last week, a man smashed windows of cars and businesses on Pike Street.

“This is really  unacceptable,” said Downtown Seattle Association President Kate Joncas.

On Wednesday, the group sent a letter criticizing the city’s fight against crime. It listed recent violent cases to Mayor Mike McGinn, demanding more police on the streets.

“For cities our size, we are still below the median. I don’t know if there is a magic number but we know we don’t have enough,” Joncas said.

Many of the attacks happened in the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct, which includes Westlake Park, Chinatown and the Pike-Pine corridor.

“Most of those incidents, officers made arrests right at the scene,” Seattle police Capt. Jim Dermody said.

Dermody is in charge of the West Precinct and says violent crime is down by 7% there. Overall, the mayor says, Seattle is safer.

“We are at a 30-year crime low and this year is coming in lower than last year,” McGinn said.

“I have two adult daughters who live in downtown Seattle. I would strongly urge them not to live there if I thought it was unsafe,” Police Chief Jim Pugel said.

“Areas in Philly, New York, Boston are way more dangerous. I would consider Seattle to me to be an extremely safe city,” said downtown Seattle resident Khadijih Linz.

But another resident, Kirra Steinbrueck, said, “Recently I saw someone getting beat up at 2 in the morning across the street; actually that doesn’t make me feel safe.”

With the primary election next Tuesday, and McGinn seeking re-election, Joncas was asked if the letter was politically motivated.

“The primary is not connected to this at all.  This is about our neighborhood, about something that’s been going wrong for a long time,” Joncas replied.

“If you look at the timing it raises some questions,” McGinn said. “But the fact of the matter is we receive concerns like this from every neighborhood when there is crime. We take it seriously no matter when we hear about it.”

The association said the city simply needs more officers on streets. SPD said it is in the midst of hiring eight more officers this week and hopes to have 30 more by next summer.

may day take downSEATTLE — Organizers of the immigration march say their day was overshadowed by anarchists who hijacked May Day.

Latino Advocacy worked with Committee Pro Reforma and organized a march that started at Judkins Park and ended at the Federal court house dowtown.

Thousands showed up in support for immigrant rights and the march was peaceful from start to finish. Latino Advocacy says it was frustrating to see the violence that later erupted. The group says they do not want to be tied to what the anarchists stand for.

The Puget Sound Anarchist’s march took off in Capitol Hill and by the time the crowd reached Westlake Center the rally turned into a brawl causing police to use pepper spray and plastic bullets to subdue protestors. Seattle Police say the crowd started throwing rocks and metal pipes at random cars and police. Anarchists used objects like a hammer, beer bottles, flares and sticks to attack police.

On Thursday when Seattle Police were asked if this was the new tradition of May Day. Seattle Police said the city is better than that.

SEATTLE — May Day protests in downtown Seattle Wednesday night turned violent for the second straight year, with protesters throwing rocks, bottles, metal bars at police and others. Police said eight officers were injured, mostly with scrapes and bruises, and 18 people were arrested.

may1Police used pepper spray and “blast balls” — a small firework-like device that gives of a loud bang, a flash and a dose of pepper — and other devices to drive the crowd of 150 to 200 people back.

Some in the crowd — self-described anarchists — wore masks and bandanas to cover their faces. As they moved into the downtown area, the protesters began chanting, “Let’s go shopping.”

“They approached the area of Westlake Mall,” said police Capt. Chris Fowler said. “They stopped. It was at that time that we began taking rocks and bottles.”

Rocks, bottles and metal bars were thrown at police, and windows in at least two businesses were broken.

“We organized a response to that,” Fowler said, adding that they made two arrests of people throwing objects. But the crowd surged toward the officers in an attempt to prevent the arrests, he said.

It was at that point that police, using pepper spray and “blast balls,” began to move the crowd out of the downtown area. Police also used their bicycles as a barricade to move the crowd back.

At about 7:45 p.m., police ordered the crowd to clear the streets or face possible arrest.

Later, police said 18 people were arrested, mostly for assault and/or property damage. Of the eight injured police officers, the Seattle Police Department said one was hit in the knee with a piece of thrown asphalt and the others had scrapes and bruises.

This is the second consecutive year that self-described anarchists have broken windows and damaged cars in the downtown area on May Day.




Seattle police said these were some of the objects thrown at officers during the May Day violence Wednesday night. (Photo: Seattle Police Dept.)



SEATTLE — Police are investigating gunshots fired in the Westlake Metro bus tunnel late Tuesday night, the Seattle Police Department said.

No one was injured in the incident.

According to police, two bike officers were in Westlake Park at 401 Pine Street around 11:40 p.m. when they heard several gunshots coming from inside the bus tunnel. Officers rushed to the scene and spotted a group of people fleeing the tunnel exit onto Pine Street, but couldn’t locate the suspects.

Officers stopped one person who said they heard the shots. Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s Office deputies investigated the scene and found six bullet casings and fragments near the mezzanine level at the bottom of the tunnel’s south escalator. Detectives are reviewing surveillance video from inside the tunnels to help identify suspects.

Anyone with information on the shooting should call the Seattle Police Department at (206) 625-6011