Update: Early-morning SWAT team action in West Seattle

(Photos added 6:36 am)
6:01 AM: We’re near 38th and Oregon, which is blocked to traffic because of police activity including the SWAT team.

6:10 AM: Police on scene won’t comment, but whatever it’s about, it’s ending, and they’re leaving. We received a few notes saying people in the area heard loud explosion-type noises within the past hour; there’s no indication from the Fire Department’s 911 log of anyone needing medical attention, but SWAT officers do use devices creating noise as a diversion – we’ll be asking if that’s what happened.

7:09 AM UPDATE: Det. Mark Jamieson with the SPD media-response unit confirms it was a warrant situation – a “high-risk search warrant” with the hopes of finding a particular (not publicly identified) suspect. As for whether they did or didn’t, he’s still checking, so we’ll probably have yet another update here later.

46 Replies to "Update: Early-morning SWAT team action in West Seattle"

  • Lucy May 26, 2011 (6:23 am)

    I live very close to this location and heard the SPD over their car PA system and they were identifying themselves as the SPD and some other comments but ended with the words “come to the front door”. We approached the scene on our way to work and found the street blocked on by 3 SPD cars, one parked on Gennesse St. between 37th and 38th and saw that there was a Medic One unit on SW Oregon St. adjacent the Midas Muffler store. I am hoping that this was an isolated incident but with everything that I heard this morning and their were no sirens of any type I want to believe there no one was hurt, hopefully so.

  • West Seattle Wanderer May 26, 2011 (6:25 am)

    I heard the explosions at about 5:15 and poked my head out the door. I could hear the police through a bullhorn. It sounded like the were commanding someone to leave a building…

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (6:34 am)

      I can definitely tell you no one hurt, at least not requiring medics. That is all logged to the 911 site when it happens. Everything we’ve heard so far, including the time frame in which this happened, indicates warrant service – we should be able to find out within an hour or so and will add to the story when we know for sure. – TR

  • Ryan May 26, 2011 (6:32 am)

    Same as Wanderer, multiple loud booms and the directions given via bullhorn. Definitely a wild way to wake up.

  • MJ May 26, 2011 (6:32 am)

    West Seattle Wanderer, same here. Then, right around 6:00 saw SWAT leaving the alley behind 38th that runs between Oregon and Genesee: a few guys on foot getting into an SUV parked on Genesee, and then a big SWAT armored truck.

  • old timer May 26, 2011 (7:06 am)

    “Warrant service” ?????
    What is that, hand someone a piece of paper?
    Or collect someone who has received the paper on a prior occasion?

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (7:08 am)

      Usually means, trying to arrest someone. In this case, I just obtained a bit of information, adding to the story momentarily. It was a search warrant in hopes of finding a suspect – but whether they did or not, that info’s not in yet. – TR
      (And in a case like this, I guess “service” is a little blithe. They often show up in the early-morning hours to have the element of surprise, with heavy force just in case, and it means “everybody up and out of here with your hands up now, we’re looking for something/someone and we have a warrant allowing us to do it this way” …)

  • KatherineL May 26, 2011 (8:01 am)

    I’m not sure how I’d react to a bullhorn before my first cup of coffee. Would I be alert enough to realize they meant me?

  • Neighbor May 26, 2011 (8:02 am)

    I live on this street. We were awoken approx 5:30 a.m. by the PA system demanding that everyone come out of the house, including a specific person being identified. The SWAT truck was pulled up on the lawn. About 6 family members eventually came out of the house, and a few of them were placed in handcuffs. Another SWAT truck came up and loaded up the family members. Once they had been removed, they made further demands for the individual to leave before going in. I don’t believe they found whoever it was, but they then conducted a search inside the house. Eventually they called the SWAT action to a close, and about 10 to 15 additional cops came out from where I suppose they had been hiding around the neighborhood, in addition to the ~5 SWAT guys who had been front and center. It looked like one cop car remained at the house to conduct a longer evidence search. No one was injured and no shots were fired.

    A few nights ago everyone in the neighborhood was awoken by a large boom about 10 p.m. – wondering if this was related?

  • Lucy May 26, 2011 (8:17 am)

    I really enjoy everyone’s input as this goes to show you that we all are very concerned about our neighborhoods. Maybe the Medic One we saw was on their way to another call when I noticed it and it’s good to know no one was hurt.

    I am however a little concerned that if this how SPD conducts this type of operation and how if affects the surrounding neighbors. All the dogs were going nuts just as well as all of the people that heard all of this. We have lots of senior citizens in this area and I am sure that they were fearful and worried. I understand that SPD has to operate on policy but maybe there is a way they can improve their way of handling this type of procedure.

    I praise them (SPD) for the work they do, I surely couldn’t do it so maybe as neighbors and citizens we can address this to them in a positive way that may change the way they do things or mitigate the process.

  • timeslid May 26, 2011 (8:19 am)

    I am glad it didn’t go the way of the this ex Marine’s warrant delivery in AZ


  • JimmyG May 26, 2011 (8:39 am)

    A Medic unit goes with the police on just about every warrant that is served by a SWAT team.
    They stand by while the warrant is served so if anyone is hurt they are right there.

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (9:11 am)

      Bless you, we learn something new every day even after sixty skabillion years in the news racket. I hope that if the medic unit had needed to transport someone, it would have shown as an official dispatch on the 911 log from that point – otherwise, it definitely isn’t on there, no address anywhere in that vicinity, and I can understand why. Anyway, no injuries reported when we talked to SPD media. – TR

  • One More Observation May 26, 2011 (9:28 am)

    “improve their way of handling this type of procedure”? “mitigate the process”? Because you think we (as neighbors) are being made too nervous? Really? The surprise factor is one of the only reasons they are actually able to have successful executions of these operations. I’d rather not bog down this particular process any more by telling SPD they should be more sensitive to our (and our dogs’) feelings. Let’s just stay on them to hit the right addresses instead.

  • Mike May 26, 2011 (9:44 am)

    Isn’t this the same block where the bank robbery suspects fled to last week?

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (10:02 am)

      Most of the searching for the bank-robbery suspects was centered in the blocks closer to the bank. They’ve been back to 41st/40th SW, for example, a couple times to search for evidence and circulate photos (including the surveillance photos shown here last Friday). The general – not necessarily applicable here, but just general – belief in most of these cases is that robbers stash a getaway vehicle somewhere nearby, block or two, sprint to it and head on down the bridge ASAP.
      As for knowing whether the suspect was in the house, you know, they’re not exactly bringing in all these people just on a whim. And it would seem that continuous surveillance of all entrances/exits on a house to determine someone was definitely there, would be kind of an advance giveaway – this is a residential neighborhood, not crawling with places detectives could hide. Anyway, we don’t know for sure whether they did or did not arrest their target. I’m still awaiting that information. Most recent early morning raid of this type was in Upper Fauntleroy a couple weeks ago – the one that brought out the TV chopper(s) – and the target was there (though apparently bolted, all to naught); gotta check on his status, in fact, since he’s in the federal system and the information is buried a little deeper.

  • me May 26, 2011 (9:45 am)

    So if your gonnna bring Swat in and make a bunch of noise and wake up a community I would think they would know that person was in the house. I live on this block and I agree the element of surprise is the best idea but lets be sure our tax dollars arent being wasted from the lack of a little investigation.

  • Isabel May 26, 2011 (10:11 am)

    So what were the loud booms?

  • Tracy White May 26, 2011 (10:14 am)

    We all must have it pretty good if we’re complaining about being woken up a little early.

  • me May 26, 2011 (10:17 am)

    If I was to blow up something at 5:30 AM in my front yard I would be arrested for disturbing the peace.

  • doc May 26, 2011 (10:24 am)

    Thanksfor the link timeslid

  • dr na thaler May 26, 2011 (10:32 am)

    I live in rural ND. We had a similiar situation recently our policy is to reverse 911 all the neighbors and alert them to stay in house and down because a situation is to happen, Once the situation is under control the town residents are again called on reverse 911 and told all is clear.

  • CMeagh May 26, 2011 (10:33 am)

    @me – I am fine with my tax dollars paying for this type of activity. If this were to happen in my neighborhood I would be happy that the police were responding this way. I would happily get up early if it meant that a danger to the community was being removed by SPD.
    You are correct that you would be arrested for disturbing the peace if you were blowing things up early in the morning, but the difference is that the people doing it this morning were SPD SWAT, who are trained to use these tools. They use these tools to disorient the suspect for both the SPD’s protection as well as others nearby.

  • KBear May 26, 2011 (10:50 am)

    Good grief! People actually think chasing bad guys is a waste of tax dollars and makes too much noise? Reminds me of the woman who complained about the loud sirens last year. How self-absorbed!

  • brn2bm May 26, 2011 (11:03 am)

    @Lucy – “We have lots of senior citizens in this area and I am sure that they were fearful and worried”….or maybe us old folks are pretty confident that the cops are simply taking out the trash. If it’s legal, it’s okay by me if it’s loud as hell.

  • a neighbor May 26, 2011 (11:13 am)

    I live directly across the street from the house where this happened.
    They were in fact looking for the man or men who robbed the bank (we learned from the police)
    No one was hurt

  • WTF May 26, 2011 (11:16 am)

    It’s so “nice” to see that wolves still live among us sheep. Dang!

  • JoAnne May 26, 2011 (11:22 am)

    Thanks so much for the thorough coverage, WSB. I appreciate your hard work. It would be so much more disturbing to have this going on just down the street from our homes without these reports from you and those closer to the scene.

  • metrognome May 26, 2011 (11:59 am)

    the loud booms were likely caused by ‘flash bangs’ that are used to momentarily stun people because of their, well, bright flash and loud bang. The sensory overload also overwhelms the brain’s processing capacity, leaving the ‘suspect’ unable to effectively resist for a little while, but they typically don’t cause injury. Conducting the raid at night usually means the suspects’ guard is down and they are asleep or at least tired; the darkness makes the flash bangs more effective.
    ‘Warrant service’ can be either a search warrant or an arrest warrant.
    Medic One is there pre-emptively; other resourses such as a fire engine, etc. may also be nearby, depending on the situation.

  • P-star May 26, 2011 (12:32 pm)

    I love it. Even when SPD is doing their job, especially when trying to arrest
    a bad guy, they still get criticized. Complaining about a loud bang – really??? And then when they don’t act, people will say, “Where were the cops??!!!”

    Heaven forbid cop haters have to dial 911 for anything…

  • defenestrator May 26, 2011 (12:41 pm)

    I wish so many Americans didn’t have such a knee-jerk love of authority…

  • Anne May 26, 2011 (1:12 pm)

    Why is this a “knee-jerk love of authority”?We aren’t privy to the details that led SPD to take this action at this time-nor should we be.What are they supposed to do-send flyers around-or call everyone in the neighborhood-maybe go door-to-door, saying-FYI-we’ll be in the area early Thursday morning-there might be some loud noises–oh and please don’t say anything to the folks in the house in question! Sheesh!!

  • lookingfor logic May 26, 2011 (1:36 pm)

    We require results then whine about the process. I would not be thrilled about waking up at 5AM, but if the situation is warranted for public safety my little inconvenience is reasonable.

  • datamuse May 26, 2011 (2:10 pm)

    I’m hard pressed to determine what the SWAT team ought to do differently. I mean knocking politely on the door and inquiring as to whether the suspect is in residence doesn’t seem like it would work too well, you know?

  • Alki Girl May 26, 2011 (2:53 pm)

    Totally agree with P-star’s comments.

    I guess some people would rather have murderers, rapists, sex offenders and other scum living next to them (and their family) rather than be “disturbed” by the police in the morning. It’s not like people had to evacuate their homes.

    People here are so clueless how many violent jerks are right in their own backyard. I wish I thought everything was all rainbows, unicorns and happy places.

  • brn2bm May 26, 2011 (2:58 pm)

    I learned a new word! I’ll use it in a sentence. The SWAT team used a ‘flash bang’ but thankfully defenestration wasn’t part of their tactics.

  • One More Observation May 26, 2011 (3:48 pm)

    Geez. I had to wiktionary that one :)

  • me May 26, 2011 (5:21 pm)

    Did they get him or not.

  • me May 26, 2011 (5:28 pm)

    It was loud it was early and I just hope they got the person……

  • NEIGHBOR May 26, 2011 (9:01 pm)

    Hey come on people don’t you watch cop shows on TV. The loud bang was the police blasting the door open. The comments are amazing. My hat is off to the swat team for the work they do. Just trying to keep us safe from the bad guys!!!! Lighten up!

  • TLP May 26, 2011 (9:19 pm)

    WSB – you said you’d post an update – did you find out anything more? It would be nice to know what the warrant was for. We live on this street and supposedly people were taken out in handcuffs – what happened??

    • WSB May 26, 2011 (10:00 pm)

      I have no further information yet beyond what I added in the 7 am hour. Warrant situations seldom yield additional details but I would hope to eventually know if they made the key arrest here … the crucial tip sometimes comes from a source, though; the last such warrant raid, in Gatewood, we only knew who was arrested because a WSB’er who identified her/himself as a federal courthouse employee revealed who they were after and what his status was. If anyone has any idea who lives at that house and who it might be, I can cross-reference the jail register (or you can!). Sorry, will be trying again tomorrow … since the team involved was not from the SW Precinct, I have to go through the media office downtown and can’t get information as easily as if SWP officers were involved … TR
      (Added) We may have a hint from the city’s 911 map – which publishes a few words about police calls hours later –
      there is a call in the 4400 block of 38th SW this morning listed as “armed robbery.” That MAY give us a hint of what kind of suspect was being sought (I remember a previous warrant situation elsewhere, that showed up as a “drug call” because that’s what kind of arrest warrant it was) – I am checking the jail register. And will be checking with SPD Media again tomorrow morning. P.S. Handcuffs doesn’t mean anything. People taken away for questioning as witnesses sometimes are cuffed – we have learned the hard way not to assume that just because someone was cuffed and taken away at a scene, means they are arrested.

  • Me May 27, 2011 (7:33 am)

    That comment wasn’t made by “ME” … some of my friends think it was! “me” is a different person. Guess I’ll have to change my “ME” to a different sign in!
    So anyway what kind of investagation do you suggest. Knock on the door and say “uhm, excuse me but is Joe Blow here? We want to arrest him tomorrow morning.”

  • Neighbor May 27, 2011 (9:01 am)

    I do not believe they found the suspect. The two people in handcuffs I mentioned in my post I believe were just family members.

    After the family was removed from danger, they reinitiated their efforts to get someone out of the house but no one came out, so therefore I do not believe they got their man. My husband thought that in the second set of PA announcements they were saying “Jonathan, we know you are in there” but he could have been mistaken on the name.

  • MAR May 27, 2011 (10:41 am)

    No, they did not find their suspect. I know the occupants of the raided house and the police told them they had a warrant ( which they never gave them by the way) to search for the bank robbery suspects. They had the wrong house, no one was arrested.

  • neighbortoo May 27, 2011 (7:02 pm)

    There is someone named Jonathan who lives there, so “Neighbor” your husband probably heard right.

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