(UPDATED 5:11 PM with new information following bail hearing – see end of story)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A repeat offender who gained regional infamy in 2009 for prolific West Seattle graffiti vandalism involving an anti-gay slur is back in jail right now, under investigation for an alleged hate crime.
While WSB policy is generally to not identify suspects until they are charged, the circumstances of this case and the history of the suspect have led us to make an exception. The suspect is 34-year-old Ryan J. Cox, arrested on Saturday and accused of hitting a man with a baseball bat on Friday as he and the victim were leaving a Metro bus in the Luna Park area. The man told police that he believed he was attacked because of his sexual orientation, and that Cox had been hurling insults at him on board the bus.
Though police could not find a suspect after the attack – in which the victim said he was hit four times, leaving raised welts on his back – they encountered Cox on Saturday at the Solstice Park tennis courts across from north Lincoln Park, an area he has been known to frequent, and the encounter led to the arrest. That part of the story was first told to WSB by a reader who asked for anonymity. He wrote on Saturday:
I just called the police upon witnessing a white male with brown “bull cut” kind of hair jogging around the tennis courts by Lincoln Park/ the 76 gas station screaming at myself as well as an elderly couple playing tennis. The police told me that he would be going to jail and is strongly suspected to be the same man who beat a gay male yesterday with a baseball bat. I heard this man last night screaming as well. … This man has apparently been written about on your blog (according to the police) and is known by the police. He was screaming phrases that included such words as “(anti-gay slur),” “rape,” “testicles,” and “coward.” He was shouting at me and watching me as well.
Though we were unable to reach police over the weekend for confirmation and details, and the reader did not know the suspect’s name, we guessed the identity, then noted that the jail register showed Cox was booked for investigation of malicious harassment (the formal name for hate crime) just after 8 pm Saturday. This morning, we were able to get information from SPD Media Relations.
According to SPD’s Det. Mark Jamieson, the 31-year-old victim called 911 around 2 pm Friday to say a man with a baseball bat had assaulted him as they got off a bus in the 2900 block of SW Avalon Way. The victim told police the suspect had been “calling him all kinds of derogatory names,” Det. Jamieson told WSB. “He pulled out a wooden baseball bat and hit the victim in the back several times. The victim said he tried to walk off the bus while the suspect stepped back onto the bus.” Where the suspect went from there isn’t clear, but the report police filed says officers were unable to find him.
The next day, Saturday, around 4 pm, officers were dispatched to the report of a man “shouting obscenities at the (Solstice Park) tennis court,” which is where Det. Jamieson says they found Cox upon their arrival. He recognized and called out to one of the officers, who didn’t immediately recognize Cox, apparently because of an unspecified change in his appearance. What the officer did note was that “he had a baseball-bat bag and part of the bat was sticking out.” The victim the day before had mentioned that sort of bag. “And without being prompted,” Det. Jamieson continued, Cox “started to tell the officers he had had to defend himself with a baseball bat on a Metro bus. The officer had knowledge of the previous call … and took him into custody.”
The vandalism cases for which Cox first became publicly known happened in 2009 – he was arrested in spring and fall for numerous incidents of vandalism at West Seattle homes and businesses, usually using a black marker for a three-word slur that, in summary using proper language, alleges that homosexuals are pedophiles. Charges were dismissed in both cases because he was found not competent to stand trial, even though in the second, highly publicized case, which led to the equivalent of a police APB before his arrest, he was found to be carrying a fixed-blade knife when taken into custody.
Then in February 2010, he was jailed again, after a tire-slashing incident whose victim described it in an e-mail to WSB, including her discovery of the knife that was used, found a few yards from her car. Days later, he pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence, and got out of jail.
The following August, he was arrested again for vandalism; we went to court to cover the subsequent hearing, at which Cox asked the judge to send him to Western State Hospital for evaluation because he preferred it to jail. The charges were subsequently dismissed because he was yet again found not competent to stand trial, as explained in this followup.
One year after that, in September 2011, he was arrested for violating a no-contact order as well as failing to make a court appearance. We learned that was related to an August 2011 case we hadn’t heard about, in which he pleaded guilty to stalking a woman. At the time of the September arrest, he again had a knife.
This summer, jail and court records show, he was sent back to jail in relation to another failure to appear in connection with the stalking case. He was in for almost three months, until early September; the notation on the jail log says Cox was released then for “sentence expiration.”
Right now, Cox’s listing on the jail register says “bail denied”; we have an inquiry out to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office regarding whether he has a bail hearing today; once he does, additional information will likely be available.
5:11 PM UPDATE: KCPAO spokesperson Dan Donohoe tells WSB that Cox’s bail is set at $75,000 following this afternoon’s bail hearing. Prosecutors must decide by Wednesday whether to charge him. The details in the probable-cause document largely match what we already have reported in this story, plus a few additional details: The bus on which the attack allegedly happened was a Route 21; while one of the people he allegedly yelled at on the tennis courts was talking to police, Cox told officers he thought she was a family friend who had been stalking him – because she was wearing pink and orange, the colors all his stalkers wear.