day : 08/02/2011 12 results

West Seattle Crime Watch: SWAT team at 41st/Edmunds

(Updated Wednesday morning with new information from Seattle Police)

(Photos by Christopher Boffoli for WSB, added 11:07 pm)
10:16 PM: Breaking right now – what appear to be SWAT officers making arrests in the 41st/Edmunds vicinity (map) on the south side of The Junction. Christopher Boffoli is there for WSB and says what he’s been told so far is that it’s a narcotics operation. The intersection’s blocked off, so steer clear TFN. More to come.

10:39 PM: Christopher says police at the scene confirm narcotics/SWAT officers involved, and that two people have been arrested. A car is being towed away. The intersection has just reopened.

11:30 PM: No additional details – and there may not be any before morning, if then (we’ll be checking the jail register, among other places to harvest info) – but also of note, both Christopher and WSB contributor Katie Meyer report that from observation in The Junction and from radio traffic, this was the result of a planned stakeout, with support units standing by for blocks around until the operation was over. (Christopher adds that Gang Unit detectives were seen participating, too.)

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: New details from Seattle Police spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson: He says this was part of a “pretty extensive ongoing undercover narcotics operation – involving Gang Unit, Southwest Anti-Crime Team, and members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.” Over the past month or so, he says, “they had been buying on several occasions from a pretty prolific drug trafficker and gangster … and yesterday they decided to do the ‘order up take down’.” They had just “concluded a transaction and moved in to make the arrest.” The suspect they were seeking is a 40-year-old with a felony criminal history; Det. Jamieson didn’t have information on what kind of drugs he allegedly was dealing, but says he was armed with a “stolen handgun” so he’s been booked into King County Jail on weapons charges as well as drug charges.

We just checked – he’s still in as of 8:30 this morning. (A quick check of his court record reveals a long list of cases, including a Court of Appeals case in he appealed his convictions for “multiple counts of driving while license suspended and attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle,” challenging the terminology “immediately” rather than challenging the violations themselves. He lost.) Det. Jamieson says a 48-year-old woman was in the car with him, but she was released after being questioned at the Southwest Precinct.

Admiral Neighborhood Association: Safeway project changes; more

“Full house!” as Admiral Neighborhood Association past president Mark Wainwright put it, arriving at the ANA meeting tonight at Admiral Congregational Church – more than two dozen people.

The evening’s main event was a somewhat tense appearance by the Admiral Safeway project team, explaining the recent, seemingly sudden change in the project (reported here two weeks ago) – doubling the number of the residential units in the building on the southeast side of the site, discarding the flex-work office component (we first reported the change when it appeared on the city’s Land Use Information Bulletin, and Safeway shared an explanation later that day).

Safeway’s Sara Corn and Fuller/Sears architect Bill Fuller explained that the change was the result of financing troubles unfolding after construction began; ANA president Katy Walum read an official statement gently chiding the team for not having given the group a heads-up. In turn, the Safeway team implored the ANA to bring any concerns to them in the weeks ahead rather than just debuting them before the City Council when the proposed change comes up for a future hearing. More on this, and other meeting topics, ahead:Read More

High-school postseason basketball: Chief Sealth IHS win, West Seattle HS loss

Final scores are in from both of tonight’s postseason high-school boys’ basketball games: At Chief Sealth International High School, the Seahawks beat Eastside Catholic, 61-50; West Seattle High School lost its road game at Lakeside, 57-42.

ADDED: Sealth advances to the next round. More on tonight’s home game, ahead:Read More

Followup: Memorial this Sunday for Shorewood teen hit by car

February 8, 2011 7:57 pm
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 |   Shorewood | West Seattle news

Family friends of Carter Allen, the 14-year-old Shorewood boy who died last weekend of injuries suffered when a car hit him three weeks earlier, asked us to share word of his memorial. It’ll be at 2 pm this Sunday at the school he attended, in the gym at Evergreen High School (830 SW 116th; here’s a map). Family friend Ericka adds:

HS3 will need volunteers to help set up or bake cookies for a reception following. Donations for the family can be made through PayPal (link) and 100% of the funds will go to Carter’s family to cover medical, funeral and other necessary expenses. Cards & donations can also be sent to Carter’s father:

Derek Allen
10805 26th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98146-1991

Followup: What you missed at the West Seattle Triangle open house

We reported “live” last night from the West Seattle Triangle open house, which drew more than 60 people, including local neighborhood and business leaders as well as city planners. (Here’s our story, including video of what City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had to say.) If you couldn’t be there – you can still take a look at what was presented, now that it’s all published to the city’s website. The introductory overview is here; the “boards” are here, including the final few pages focusing on the potential of 85-foot-high buildings in part of The Triangle, 20 feet above current zoning; and a closer look at the “street-use concept” proposal is here. Next steps: These concepts get official city reviews, with more opportunities for you to officially comment.

Heard the planes over West Seattle? We did too.

(Photo added 10:57 pm – taken by “Uncle Mikey” in Schmitz Park area)
4:03 PM: Checking around to see what that was all about … one person on Twitter says it was “three fighter jets,” someone else described it as two fighter jets escorting a plane. Yet another person on Twitter says two F-16s and an A-6 Intruder.

4:10 PM: KING calls it “a photo op, F-18s & EA-6B.” (Still looking for details, though, half-an-hour later … will add whenever some emerge!)

4:54 PM: Now it seems a historic MiG-29 may have been the noisemaker, with “chase planes.” So says KIRO 7. Here’s the MiG’s test-flight takeoff from Snohomish County:

Story still in motion, though!

9 PM: As Mike points out in comments, looks like we have our final answer – details on the photo op that KING mentioned. (The MiG, apparently, was a coincidence.) Here’s the KING story, with photos of the planes you heard/saw.

West Seattle schools: Lafayette playground makes goal, bids soon

February 8, 2011 2:55 pm
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

It’s full speed ahead for the latest phase of the longrunning playground-improvement project at West Seattle’s most populous elementary school. Organizers of the Play It Forward campaign raising money for Lafayette Elementary‘s playground say they achieved the goal of matching funds/labor/materials to get the $100,000 city grant they had won, so they “are on schedule to head out to bid for the project as soon as some of the construction drawings are finalized,” according to Deborah Hazlegrove, who adds: “Our intention is to break ground after school is out and have a brand-spanking new playground for the kids when they return in the fall.” In the meantime, you’re invited to the next community meeting updating the project – February 17th, 7 pm, school library – and they’re still fundraising, so if you have ideas to help with that and/or with promotion, they’d love to see you there, or to hear from you any time (e-mail Holly at

Happy anniversary, West 5: Founders ‘humbled’ by icon status

(West 5 team, coaxed outside briefly during “Spring Cleaning” day last Sunday)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Their restaurant/lounge is laden with reminders of West Seattle’s past – and is an irresistible part of West Seattle’s present. As West 5‘s founders celebrate their establishment’s 8th anniversary today, they’re seeing a bright future.

To follow up on the anniversary announcement published here 2 weeks ago, we sat down to talk with Dave Montoure and Dean Overton on Super Bowl Sunday, when they traditionally close West 5 for “spring cleaning” – which goes far beyond just bringing out mops, buckets, and sponges. All around us, team members (who we’re told volunteered to come in and help) were joining their bosses in intensive work – with the day’s plan including even drywalling.

Not much point in being open that particular day, anyway, since West 5 is TV-free. That against-the-grain status is reminiscent of its origins as an establishment “free” of something else – smoke. Back in 2003, smoking was still allowed inside some establishments, but West 5 opened as a trailblazing nonsmoking lounge. Predictions of an inevitably quick death obviously, well, went up in smoke.

But did they imagine they’d make it to 8 years in business?

Read More

Update: New date for Lincoln Park attack suspect’s hearing

An update this morning in the case of accused Lincoln Park attacker Duane Starkenburg, the 46-year-old Gatewood man out on bond after being charged in connection with three incidents in which women say they were tackled and assaulted, most recently two weeks ago, the day he was arrested. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says Starkenburg’s arraignment has been moved up a day. Instead of appearing this Thursday, he is now scheduled to appear tomorrow at 8:30 am in King County Superior Court downtown, room E-1201. (For those who have asked about the process – arraignment is usually a fairly short hearing at which a suspect enters a plea, though multiple defendants are usually scheduled in that courtroom simultaneously, and it could be some time after 8:30 before he appears.) KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe says the charges against him remain the same ones filed week before last – two counts of indecent liberties, one count of attempted indecent liberties.

Community Orchard of West Seattle grows a website, plans classes

February 8, 2011 10:43 am
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 |   Gardening | How to help | West Seattle news

(WSB photo from orchard work party last month)
Another step ahead for the new Community Orchard of West Seattle – it’s sprouted a website! You’ll find COWS online at And there you also will find details of two upcoming events to which community volunteers are heartily invited – classes followed by lunch and a work party, 10 am Saturdays, February 12 with the topic “Perennial Plantings” and March 12 with the topic “Annual Plantings.” It all happens at the north end of South Seattle Community College on West Seattle’s Puget Ridge (6000 16th SW) – RSVP info is on the brand-new website.

Suspected ‘polite robber’ gained infamy as the ‘Transaction Bandit’

WSB policy is usually not to identify crime suspects until they are charged. But there are a few exceptions – same ones we had while in citywide media – including cases in which the person is photographed/videotaped actually committing the crime. So with that said, we are reporting that 65-year-old Gregory Paul Hess is the man arrested in Top Hat and then booked into King County Jail late last night on suspicion of being the so-called “polite” robber who was videotaped (here’s KING5‘s original story) holding up the Roxbury Shell last Saturday morning.

Announcing the arrest on Monday afternoon, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. John Urquhart mentioned that the suspect had been previously convicted of armed robbery. Researching Hess’s background last night and this morning, we discovered that his criminal past brought him media coverage before: In 2003, he was arrested after a string of bank robberies (none in West Seattle) attributed to the “Transaction Bandit.” As was the case in the videotaped Roxbury heist, the robber in those cases waited until the till was open and then changed from customer to robber. Not only that – the “need money” story told by the Roxbury robber echoes the “Transaction Bandit” saga. Charges against Hess were detailed in this 2003 Seattle Times (WSB partner) story, which began:

Gregory Paul Hess hadn’t worked in months, and he had rent to pay and groceries to buy, federal prosecutors say in court documents filed yesterday charging Hess with bank robbery.

The 58-year-old Seattle man had quit his job steaming lattes at a Starbucks in Madison Park before Christmas, and he was sure his unemployment benefits would dry up any day, according to charges filed against Hess in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

According to federal court dockets we reviewed online this morning, Hess struck a plea bargain in 2004, pleading guilty to three of the five counts with which he was charged. He was sentenced to 4 years, 9 months in prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons website, he was released in July 2007. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says he’s due for a bail hearing at 2:30 this afternoon.

3:38 PM UPDATE: Hess’s bail was set this afternoon at $250,000. Prosecutors have until Thursday to file formal charges.

West Seattle Tuesday: Neighborhoods; school buses; basketball

(Monday rainbow as seen from West Seattle’s shore, photo by Danny McMillin from the WSB Flickr group pool)
Second Tuesday of the month means neighborhood-association meetings. An Admiral Safeway project update is part of the agenda for the Admiral Neighborhood Association at 7 pm, Admiral Congregational Church lower-level meeting room (California/Hill); Fauntleroy Community Association also meets at 7 pm, in the old schoolhouse (9141 California SW), board meeting but public’s welcome. … Chief Sealth International High School hosts two major events tonight – an areawide meeting about the proposed district Transportation Plan, 6:30 pm (more here), and 7 pm is tipoff for the Sealth boys-varsity basketball team hosting a postseason game against Eastside Catholic. … 7 pm is also when West Seattle High School‘s boys-varsity team travels to Lakeside for their postseason game. … Arbor Heights Elementary welcomes visitors to its Open House at 6:30 tonight … As first previewed here two weeks ago, it’s the 8th anniversary of West 5 in The Junction – more on that later this morning, as they promise happy-hour prices all day (starting at 11 am) and other reasons to drop by and celebrate … Lots more on the WSB West Seattle Events calendar!

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