SEATTLE – There have been a pair of serious but unrelated crimes in the heart of downtown Seattle in the midst of the busy holiday shopping season.
First a man died in Pioneer Square after being gunned down – and only days before, a woman was accosted inside a high-rise hotel by a transient. The victim told police had a stranger not intervened in the attack, she feared she would have been raped.
While some crime rates are actually on the rise across the city, some say it’s not enough to keep them away.
“I’ve been to Seattle once a month since July,” said traveler Marta Aviles.
Aviles says she’s used to traveling across the country – and Seattle is no different.
“It’s something you learn as a woman - you have to learn how to travel around and stay safe,” she said.
She’s staying at the Westin downtown – and while she didn’t have any idea about the vicious attack that happened at the end of November, she tries to say aware of her surroundings at all times.
“What I found out happened at the hotel, if someone gets on the same elevator as me, if they don’t respond or say something with me, I get in contact with someone on my phone so that they know if I stop responding,” she said.
Police say the attack inside the Westin happened when a transient followed a female customer into the lobby, and then shared the same elevator.
When they reached the 14th floor they got off – and moments later the suspect allegedly attacked her, choked her and only stopped when a stranger intervened.
Then only days later, police arrested a 19-year-old man who allegedly shot and killed a 37-year-old man in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood shortly before midnight. According to a police report, suspect killed the victim while robbing him.
The Seattle Police Department’s SeaStat shows some crimes are on the rise year over year, including robbery and aggravated assault – both up by 10 percent.
The crimes highlight the potential dangers facing anyone who might be downtown for the holidays.
“We see thousands of visitors each day coming to enjoy the holidays downtown and we’re going to continue to do so,” said James Sido with the Downtown Seattle Association.
The SDA says while it would like to see more officers patrolling, it insists the downtown areas are safe.
“We have tens of millions of visitors in downtown Seattle each year,” said Sido. “We have more than 300,000 people working in downtown and our residential population is about to hit 100,000. People want to be in downtown Seattle and I think that’s going to be the case.”
For visitors like Marta, she says it’s always important to pay attention to your surroundings.
“You always have to be mindful of everything that’s going on no matter where you’re at,” she said.