9:41 AM: If you have a view across Elliott Bay from West Seattle, you might have noticed emergency vessels around one of the Victoria Clipper boats – Carolyn Newman shared the photo, and we received a call from Louise in North Admiral. Seattle Police tweeted, “Report of a suspicious person aboard the otherwise unoccupied Victoria Clipper. Coast Guard has called in our Bomb Squad.” In addition to being unoccupied, the boat is also unmoored. It’s just off the downtown waterfront, but again, in case you noticed the activity from here, that’s what’s up.
10:26 AM: Update from SPD: “Officers are in contact with the man on the Victoria Clipper and are still working to resolve the situation.”
10:36 AM: Suspect in custody, SPD tweets:
Suspect in Elliott Bay incident taken into custody aboard the Victoria Clipper.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) December 1, 2013
11:55 AM: According to the SPD Blotter account of the Clipper-commandeering incident, the suspect claims he wanted to take it to West Seattle!
…The boat was discovered 300 yards out from Pier 69 on the Seattle waterfront around 7 AM, and it first appeared the Clipper ship was adrift.
However, when a tugboat went to retrieve the boat, they discovered there was a man on board and contacted the Coast Guard and police. SPD’s SWAT, patrol and Arson Bomb Squad responded to Elliott Bay along with Port of Seattle police and US Coast Guard boat and helicopter teams.
Police negotiators contacted the man on the ship and, eventually, a tactical team boarded the vessel and arrested the suspect. The man told police he had planned to take the boat to West Seattle.
The suspect will be booked into the King County Jail for yet-to-be-determined charges (piracy or grand theft vessel) and the boat will be towed back to port.
Closest photos we’ve seen are from KIRO TV, which called in its chopper.
1:39 PM: The president of the Victoria Clipper’s parent company told the Victoria Times-Colonist he was in his waterfront office when he saw the boat take off, unscheduled. Read the interview here.
7:10 PM: The man arrested by police has a long record, according to what we’re finding; today is his 33rd birthday. He is a registered sex offender named Samuel McDonough, address listed as Pike/Broadway (Capitol Hill); his most recent sexually motivated crime, records show, involved indecent exposure outside a coffee stand in Issaquah last year. We’re still checking publicly available records to look for any West Seattle links. His page (with photo) on the sex-offender registry is here.