(October 9 photo by Christopher Boffoli; suspect Daren Atwood at center, khaki pants)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The man arrested after last Thursday’s gunfire incident near Fairmount Ravine was booked into jail this evening and is charged with a misdemeanor.
That case topped crime updates from Southwest Precinct Community Police Team Officer Jon Flores during tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, held at Hiawatha Community Center (a last-minute move because of a conflict at regular venue The Sanctuary at Admiral).
We had been checking on the suspect’s status; as reported during our coverage on Thursday, he was initially taken to Harborview for a 72-hour mental evaluation. That has since ended and as of this evening, King County Jail records confirm that the suspect, 30-year-old Admiral resident Daren Atwood, is there, charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, a gross misdemeanor. No bail amount is listed on the jail register so far, but Atwood is due in the city’s Mental Health Court tomorrow, according to online records.
Ahead: Other crime incidents/issues discussed at the meeting, plus two other major topics, including presentations on both preschool-related measures you’ll see on the November 4th ballot:
OTHER CRIME/SAFETY UPDATES: Officer Flores began with stats: Over the past 2 months, Admiral area has had two strong-arm robberies, last week’s firearms incident, five residential burglaries, one non-residential burglary (at the Shell station), three car prowls, three auto thefts.
Regarding the first of the two strong-arm robberies, August 18th outside the 41st/Admiral Starbucks, there’s been one arrest (out of three suspects), according to Officer Flores, with charges either filed or pending. Regarding the October 4th attack/robbery in Hiawatha Park – “one of the issues here – 911 was not called immediately, so by the time officers were dispatched, about 25 minutes had elapsed – the victims made their way home.” He said multiple officers made “area checks” but didn’t find anyone specific, yet it remains “an active and open investigation … (with) at least one potential lead.” The attackers were believed to be young adults – late teens, early 20s, past high-school age, he said in reply to a question of whether they might have been high-school students.
One other major crime/safety topic – people hanging out/living under the Admiral Bridge. For one, Officer Flores said, while he was part of the containment during last Thursdays’ gunfire incident, he was approached by many people who “thought it was the people under the bridge,” though, as noted above, the suspect turned out to be a local resident.
Police and other city departments are working on strategies including, he said, “We are working toward being able to close off those sorts of structures – bridges – to (people)” – getting some signage in the area (which doesn’t have any right now) – “it will allow for active enforcement. .. There isn’t any reason for people to be under that bridge, unless you’re a structural engineer.”
Side note: During one recent cleanup of the area, a unique collection of potential stolen property was found – a bag with four binders full of near-mint-condition sports trading cards “one you knew someone was missing” – dating back into ’70s, ’80s. Officer Flores said the cards were taken to the SPD Evidence Unit ‘and hopefully we can find owner of that property.”
PRESCHOOL MEASURE PRESENTATIONS: Heather Weiner, a supporter of Proposition 1A, said it is on the ballot “against” 1B despite supporters’ wishes that the two weren’t pitted against each other. She said she is “not a big critic” of 1B – “we had wanted voters to be able to vote yes-yes.” What 1A does, she says, is “address the larger child-care crisis … your average single woman in King County pays more than half her income in child care. That’s a really big issue over the quality of the care she might choose and whether she chooses to stay at work.” It comes down to high turnover because teachers have not-so-high wages, which Weiner said is “detrimental to children.” The proposal deals with wages and training that would deal with issues such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and recognizing child abuse, she said. The $3 million/year cost could come from a surplus in the already-approved city Families and Education Levy or from the city seeking grants, Weiner said.
For Proposition 1B, campaign manager Austin Miller started by listing supporters/endorsers. “After taking a look at both plans, (supporters) recognized that only 1B creates high-quality preschool” and would help to close the achievement gap. He said that 1B has its own funding, a four-year property tax. Holly Miller (no relation) said that she is here on her own time though her day job is running the city Office of Education. She said this sets up a 4-year “demonstration project,” learning from the mistakes of Boston, for example, which, she said was too ambitious in its first three years. “Start slow” was the advice they received, she said. The program will be serving 2,000 children in 100 classrooms around the city by the end of its fourth year, she said. The measure requires teachers to have a certain level of credentials but also offers money to help them achieve that level, she said. And she listed “social and emotional support” for students and families in the program. By the end of the four years, she said, they think the funding picture for the program might look different because of grant availability from other sources. (She also said Weiner’s claim of a Families and Education Levy surplus was inaccurate.)
Asked how the participants will be chosen, 1B advocate Holly Miller said criteria will include neighborhoods of low-academic-achievement schools, concentrations of low-income families and/or English language learners, but “in building the classroom, we would want to make sure there were children” from mixed-income levels. The plan is still being drawn up, she said.
You can read both measures on the King County Elections website – note the very specific request for you to say whether one should be enacted into law, and then if one IS, which one – watch for your ballot to arrive later this week.
(Added: Prop 1A’s Weiner sent related documents including this one about how it would be paid for.)
HOLIDAY EVENT: ANA is planning a big community holiday event for noon-4 pm December 7th at The Sanctuary, and they’re hoping for help with planning. Photos with Santa Claus, chorus/musical entertainment, gingerbread-house contest, donation drive for the West Seattle Food Bank, and a holiday craft bazaar, are among the likely features. Interested in being part of the bazaar? email@example.com – don’t wait, as there are just a few tables, $35 each.
NEXT MEETING: Second Tuesdays 7 pm, so that’s November 11th; should be back at The Sanctuary.