Businesses reconsidering future in downtown Seattle over crime

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SEATTLE -- Andrea Raetzer wonders if last week’s mass shooting at 3rd and Pine is the reason why Steepologie Teas is awfully quiet.

“It hurts, it does hurt, sales have declined,” Raetzer said.

As sales dip at the corner of 4th and Stewart there is an even a bigger dilemma.

“I have two team members who no longer will work this store. That hurts business when I can’t employ people that feel safe to work,” Raetzer said.

From employees to customers, the same theme has been building for years.

“People don’t feel safe coming here,” Raetzer said.

She can’t blame them: just last week a woman attacked her daughter, who is an employee.

Raetzer says a woman speaking incoherently was harassing customers. When her daughter asked her to leave, the woman started throwing punches.

“She is walking towards the door away from customers, she’s actually taking abuse as she’s walking to the door because in her mind she is trying to keep customers safe, putting herself in harms way,” Raetzer said.

There is still some hope at this tea shop that things will get better, but next door at Barone Crystal there is no more waiting.

“We are leaving because the crime is out of control,” Gina Barone Simmons said.

The engraving store has been on the same block for 30 years, started by Gina’s dad, Gino Barone.

“This is my legacy; this is not something I take lightly,” Simmons said.

But she says her family can only take so much.

“I’ve had people threaten, spit and throw things,” Simmons said.

She started bringing her dog to work for protection and locking the doors even during business hours.

“Tipping point was we had a guy throw a wrench through our window,” Simmons said.

Hopefully it’s the last attack for Barone Crystal until they close their downtown store for good on April 1.

Simmons says they are hoping to relocate to the Southcenter area.

Barone Crystal's departure comes after Bartell Drugs closed their branch on 3rd Avenue and Union in November.

Bartell Drugs cited crime and city policies as the reasons for closing the store.

Meanwhile, Raetzer says she wants city leaders to try new policies but she also prosecutors to draw a line in the sand on crimes that are not acceptable.

“Once you cross over into posing a danger to society ... they need to be behind bars,” Raetzer said.

After seeing the video of the assault for the first time on Tuesday, Q13 News reached out to the city attorney’s office about the case. They had yet to charge the woman.

“I am shocked,” Raetzer said.

On Wednesday the city attorney’s office confirmed to Q13 News that there was a paperwork issue and once the proper details were processed that prosecutors would weigh charges.

Raetzer updated Q13 News to say that the city attorney’s office also contacted her daughter on Wednesday to talk about the attack.

While their case is pending, Raetzer also wants city leaders to know that crime stats are not capturing the constant psychotic outbreaks, harassment and the open drug market in the downtown core.

“I’ve had heroin addicts trying to use my table outside the door. I’ve had infants with mothers who is high on the corner,” Raetzer said.

She also stopped letting random people use the bathroom because of drug paraphernalia left behind.

Raetzer says there is only so much Seattle Police can do, and she emphasized that all the officers she has come in contact with have been attentive and thorough.

“Sometimes I wonder if anybody really understands what they deal with on a day to day basis,” Raetzer said.

But she also admits she has stopped reporting crime like she used to.

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