West Seattle Crime Watch: Another student robbed; see the letter sent to families

(Delridge/Holden stairway where robbery is reported to have happened)
We had asked Seattle Police to confirm a report of another student robbery today. Now, we have details. Parents from Denny International Middle School are getting robocalls, and this has just appeared on SPD Blotter:

An armed robber pulled a gun on a teen and stole her backpack as she walked to school in West Seattle this morning.

The 13-year-old victim was walking down a staircase near 20th Avenue SW and SW Holden Street when a man approached her on the staircase, pulled out a gun, and told her to “give me everything you’ve got.”

The suspect patted the teen down looking for a cellphone and money. When he found neither, he snatched her backpack and fled. The teen walked the rest of the way to school and reported the incident. She described the suspect as a black male in his late 20s, muscular, wearing a purple bandana over his face, a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants. Officers searched near the scene of the robbery, but were unable to find the suspect or the victim’s bag.

Police are working with Seattle Public Schools officials to ensure the safety of students on their way to and from school. If you have any information about this case, please call 911.

This comes two weeks after the first in a recent string of West Seattle robberies, though police have said they haven’t found a connection between any of the cases except for the two in Admiral. The first one was January 15th near Myrtle Reservoir, in which a 14-year-old was robbed of his backpack while heading to a bus stop near 35th/Myrtle.

1:48 PM: Denny IMS principal Jeff Clark has sent us the letter that has gone out to Denny and Sealth families. Note that the location is described a bit differently, and this one is the same that we heard in a bit of police-radio discussion:

Dear Denny and Sealth Scholars and Families,

We want to share with you information right away regarding a crime that occurred in our community this morning.

At approximately 7:15am this morning an eighth-grade Denny scholar was walking down the staircase at Delridge Way SW and SW Holden St. When she arrived at the stair landing, an African American male who appeared to be in his late 20’s came into view. He pointed a gun at her, patted her down, robbed her, and then let her go. When the scholar arrived at school, she did the right thing by reporting this to school staff right away. Denny staff immediately notified the Seattle Police Department, who are actively investigating.

The safety of our scholars is our top priority. After school today and before and after school on Monday, the Police, Seattle Public Schools Safety and Security, and school staff will be in that area.

You can help your children stay safe by talking to them about personal safety. Tips to discuss are:
• walking in pairs or groups and being aware of their surroundings at all times
• report anything suspicious to a trusted adult (school staff and family member)

More tips and information can be found on the Seattle Police Department website: seattle.gov/police/prevention/child/default.htm.

The letter is signed by Denny principal Clark and Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer. We have more safety information in our report on this week’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting, at which police talked about the robberies as well as how to best try to protect yourself.

P.S. Reminder that Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is coming to West Seattle next Tuesday for her first “community conversation” here, 6:30 pm February 3rd at the SW Precinct (Webster/Delridge, just a block from where today’s robbery happened).

FRIDAY MORNING NOTE: We checked with precinct leadership and they don’t know yet if this one was connected to any of the others. Capt. Steve Wilske did say in a note to neighborhood-council leaders, “We will be focusing a significant number of on duty and off duty resources toward this issue starting Monday morning, and for the foreseeable future until we either make some arrests or see the incidents stop.”

54 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Another student robbed; see the letter sent to families"

  • chuck and sally's van man January 29, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    What a coward.

  • martin January 29, 2015 (2:35 pm)

    What could a child possibly have..?? Why do that to someone so young?

  • Dave January 29, 2015 (2:39 pm)

    One of these punks WILL eventually attempt to rob the wrong person and “pay the price” for cowardice.

  • MyEye January 29, 2015 (3:28 pm)

    Dave, what are you going to draw down on someone with their gun out? More guns are not the solution for the problem here.
    .
    Vigilante hordes are the solution.

  • Sad January 29, 2015 (3:29 pm)

    This is terrible! Unfortunately, kids even younger than this one have items thieves find valuable and these kids use them for schoolwork… iPads, iPods, iPhone, laptops, etc. I sense this trend increasing with the demand for technology, which is just terrible. How much more scummy can people get than robbing a child?

  • heather January 29, 2015 (3:29 pm)

    Omg! A 13 year old robbed at gun point and “patted down” by a strange man with a gun. NOT ACCEPTABLE.

  • Eric January 29, 2015 (3:35 pm)

    @Dave: Or some bystander will pay the price, or even your imagined hero. There’s a reason we let the police handle these things rather than running around waving guns in people’s faces. Thankfully so far it has only been things (and trauma – I can’t imagine if my kid had a gun pulled on them walking to school), but everyone is still alive. Let’s try to keep it that way.

  • not pc January 29, 2015 (3:36 pm)

    This news is now on SeattlePI.com, but they omit the “black” and “muscular” descriptors from their story. Thanks WSB for giving the full SPD report and not a redacted politically correct version. If we are to help catching these guys we need as much info as possible.

    Kind of ironic that the SeattlePI says at the end of their article to call the police if you know who did it, after they omit descriptions that could help people do just that.

    • WSB January 29, 2015 (3:49 pm)

      Not PC, I hate to cast aspersions on someone else but the site you mention is barely a shadow of its former self; there are just a few hardworking people left; despite the fact the website has a deep-pocketed parent company, it’s barely keeping the name alive. I would suspect a case of fast rewrite rather than information suppression. We have no problem with running the entirety of an SPD Blotter post if necessary – it is the work of a government employee and therefore “fair use” verbatim for any media outlet – although I wish I could have reported this hours earlier if SPD had answered my inquiry (next time I’ll escalate sooner – though I’d rather there were no “next time”). Also of note, the SPD Blotter version did not mention the name of the school; we knew because of (a) scanner and (b) the school, as well as parents, forwarding the note that went home.

  • Denny Parent January 29, 2015 (3:41 pm)

    “staircase at Delridge Way SW and SW Holden St” Are you kidding me, that is a block from the Police Station!!!!! WTH?

  • brandon January 29, 2015 (3:44 pm)

    Right around the corner from the Cop Shop? Ballsy.

  • anonyme January 29, 2015 (3:44 pm)

    While I know it’s impossible to control every move a teenager makes, I would not want my daughter using that dark, isolated staircase at any time. I hope that parents discuss walking routes as part of the safety talk they have with their kids.

    Phones seem to be the big black market item now. Teens always have them – and they make easy targets. Despicable.

  • Seattlite January 29, 2015 (3:48 pm)

    First, thank goodness this young girl was not physically harmed. How traumatizing for this young girl to be robbed and touched by this gangster thug. Parents and school officials need to get together and figure how to keep the kids safe going to and from school.

  • 7-Eleven January 29, 2015 (3:49 pm)

    Sounds like the POS was waiting for someone going down those stairs … she went down heading to school, he definitely went up those stairs to get away.

    If he came from or was headed to 16th & Holden (125/128 bus lines on 16th), have to wonder if the 7-Eleven at 16th & Holden might have this guy on camera … pretty good description.

  • Delridge Denizen January 29, 2015 (4:00 pm)

    These connector stairways seem to have become the dark alleys of east-West Seattle.

  • Joe Szilagyi January 29, 2015 (4:14 pm)

    @WSB, is SPD omitting the school here an oversight or a standard practice in these situations?

    • WSB January 29, 2015 (4:23 pm)

      Tends to be standard practice. I think along the lines of also omitting business names. And people’s names. If you went through SPD Blotter, you’d probably notice the style. I am not justifying it but the school wasn’t necessarily relevant to the story since it didn’t happen nearby, it’s just where she happened to be on the way to. It’s also where they made the call to police (that’s what we thought we’d heard on the scanner hours earlier and I’d been trying to confirm with SPD, we even went out to the Delridge/Holden stairs and took the crummy cameraphone photo atop this story, you’ll note the sunlight was behind) … TR

  • Eric January 29, 2015 (4:30 pm)

    Who’s this Eric?

    • WSB January 29, 2015 (4:32 pm)

      We have at least three longtime commenters named Eric. We don’t usually see you all on the same thread, though. Sorry, happens occasionally.

  • Jane January 29, 2015 (4:32 pm)

    Takes a special kind of lowlife cockroach to rob a child. I live a couple blocks from here and this is deeply concerning. Hope the police have some leads.

  • RB January 29, 2015 (4:36 pm)

    I take these stairs often and i often see suspicious individuals smoking weeds and such. Sometime i can smell the “fresh” pee, or see broken beer glass, etc. Delridge Denizen is right. These stairs have become a dark alley. Who could we talk to to change the layout of the top of the stairs so not to offer criminals the privacy they need to thrive? I feel by cutting down the bushes and with little demo of the wall on 20th we could expose these stairs to full view and reduce the criminala ctivity there. SAdly this is an obligated passage for those who live NE of delridge to get down to their schools

  • Lauri January 29, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    To the girl who was robbed, thank you for being strong and reporting what happened. You are very brave for continuing to school, and not letting this creep keep you from your learning, your goals and your life.

  • KM January 29, 2015 (5:27 pm)

    @martin

    iPads, smartphones, etc. That’s more than a grand worth of stuff right there. The days of these crapheads only targeting adults for their wallet + laptop are gone as many kids walk around with just as much valuable goods.

    @notpc I know. This kind of tip-toeing around descriptions for perps is gross and irresponsible

  • NW January 29, 2015 (5:32 pm)

    I use to walk to school: Schmitz Park Madison and sometimes to WSHS. I have two days during the weekday that I am happy to volunteer and hour being a vigilant adult along a route where children walk to school in my own neighborhood.

  • M January 29, 2015 (5:42 pm)

    Hopefully some of the recent developments like the three new $500k homes next door will start to raise the rents and move the crime out

  • WillBeHOnest January 29, 2015 (5:45 pm)

    Everyone: Make sure your kid’s phones are password protected with a simple password. Download the Find Your Phone app or something like it. Could definitely increase the chances of pinpointing the phone/suspect. Worked for me once.

  • sophista-tiki January 29, 2015 (6:00 pm)

    Strong armed street robbery is becoming part of our everyday language like its no big deal. Go Seattle!

  • helaina January 29, 2015 (6:12 pm)

    More info would be nice there are many shades of brown and just saying he was black or African American just seems like it might contribute to fear and prejudices. Just saying the man was white wouldn’t be very helpful either.

  • Eric1 January 29, 2015 (6:30 pm)

    I changed to Eric1 a while ago to avoid confusion. I agree mostly with Eric2 on “if a crimnal gets shot, they knew the job was dangerous” rather than Eric3 “Can’t we all just get along”.
    .

  • Eric3 January 29, 2015 (6:51 pm)

    Just to be clear – I’m not saying “can’t we all just get along?” – I sure as heck hope they find the guy and lock him but good. What I am saying is vigilantes do more harm than good. If you see something like this, call 911, rather than pulling out a firearm and hitting the wrong person.

  • drahcir61 January 29, 2015 (6:54 pm)

    I really hope the police will use their “relationships” with these thugs to find out who is robbing children at gun point in West Seattle. Word spreads, they can find out … this needs to stop asap.

    The police have told us “they know, by name, many of the players” … go talk to them, who exactly is TARGETING school-age children at 7:15am???

    Lastly, Mr. Mayor, are you busy next Tuesday evening because West Seattle residents would really like to speak with you, in person.

  • Orca January 29, 2015 (7:33 pm)

    @eric3
    I reread the posts above by the other Erics.
    No one advocated any type of “vigilante” action. He simply pointed out that the punks will run into someone who is legally carrying a weapon.
    Can you point to an instance in our area where a person protecting themselves or others has “done more harm than good”?
    I suspect that is just the normal rhetoric we always hear by anti-self protection folk. Facts work better than vague accusations to support a personal position.

    You all might want to look up the definition of vigilante.

  • John January 29, 2015 (9:17 pm)

    Orca,
    We constantly see examples of people arming themselves for protection, to their own or to others demise.

    “done more harm than good?

    How about the police officer who left the gun in his car and his kid fired it, the nuclear scientist mother shot by her two year old and innumerable gun related ‘accidents’ we read about daily?

    Locally we had the murder of the young man by the man armed for protection who felt threatened outside of the Feedback Lounge.

  • joel - the only Joel January 29, 2015 (10:42 pm)

    daylight or nightmare or anytime – it’s not good to go down a long stairway or any long narrow path in which you have no exit points……this happening by the police station…everyday there are dozens of folks outside HD and the gas station right in front of the no loitering signs…..we live maybe 3 mins from the police station. my wife was strong armed robbed and took the cops over 90 minutes to arrive….first and last time she took that bus route. sometimes when you get that feeling you need to take off and run the other way – does not matter if the person meant no harm…they will get over it.

  • Eric January 30, 2015 (4:59 am)

    Dang, there’s a lot of Erics on this thread

  • Orca January 30, 2015 (8:01 am)

    @John
    Sorry…but your examples do not relate to Eric3’s comments about “vigilantes”
    You may want to check out (here on WSB) the facts about the Feedback Lounge incident. It does not match your assertion.
    There is much true and important concern about gun safety..
    But that is not part of the discussion in this thread.

    Many of our friends and neighbors (men and women) lawfully carry personal protection weapons without you being aware of it.
    The continued reports of the incidents reported here and other media are the reason.
    Please try to understand that your personal beliefs are simply that…and that others have the right to act on their beliefs as well.
    The original post on this subject related to the possibility that the dirt bags will accost someone who will strongly defend themselves.

  • Bunnyfer January 30, 2015 (8:19 am)

    Orca,

    There ARE facts to back up the “more harm than good” posit about gun ownership and gun carry laws. Just one article here:
    “The Myth of the Good Guy With a Gun.
    The NRA is wrong: Owning a gun is far more likely to harm you than protect you.”

    http://slate.me/1zieCiM

  • Orca January 30, 2015 (9:05 am)

    Bunnyfer
    Really??
    An anti-gun article on the Internet is a fact?

    I will give you some help…try real facts such as the Travon Martin case. That would be an extreme example of a gun carrying “vigilante”.

    It does your argument little good to use vague articles by others with your same beliefs.
    Enough from me. Let’s get the dirt bags off from our streets..hopefully by long jail time.

  • John January 30, 2015 (9:05 am)

    Orca,
    How can you claim gun safety is a different issue?

    You claim that weapons owned for security do not do “more harm than good” is contradicted by facts and statistics.

    The examples provided are all gun owners who own/carry a gun for personal protection.

    The Feedback lounge case does indeed match my description. From trial testimony by the shooter’s wife,
    “Her husband “encouraged me to take a firearm-safety course and get (a gun) for protection.” She said she bought one for him because “he had expressed interest in getting one, had been buying magazines and researching them, so I bought him one” – somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago.”

    Quite simply, a gun for protection ‘done more harm than good”.

  • jen January 30, 2015 (9:42 am)

    Thank you to those posting comments here regarding the actual topic and concern for the teens well being and also coming up with ideas to help. It’s more productive than those using this space for their own agenda and opinions on gun laws, and simply trying to prove other people who comment their ‘theory’ and ‘opinion’ is wrong…

    • WSB January 30, 2015 (10:00 am)

      And to Jen’s point, that sidetrack is not meeting our rules for staying on topic. I invite you to open a discussion topic in our forum if you’d like to explore it further.

  • drahcir61 January 30, 2015 (11:10 am)

    I assume the young girl was frightened to death & walked/ran directly to school which is expected.

    But for anyone else who might be a little more composed under those circumstances, time is critical in catching this guy.

    Stop a passing motorist (if you can do it safely), flag a transit bus or a cab, head to the nearest business … but make that 911 call ASAP.

    I’m not blaming the young girl so spare me the negative comments but I assume it took 15/20 minutes before she told anyone. Just a future thought for yourself or loved ones … the quicker that 911 call is made the better the chance he/she is caught.

    • WSB January 30, 2015 (11:17 am)

      That is an important conversation to have, and it was reiterated in the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting the other night ( http://westseattleblog.com/2015/01/west-seattle-block-watch-captains-network-taking-care-of-35thmorgan-personal-safety-advice-you-can-use-anywhere ). And make sure everyone of all ages knows where police and fire stations – places you’ll always find someone – are. The precinct isn’t really visible from those stairs, despite their proximity, and its entrance door is off Webster instead of Delridge, but it was still closer than walking all the way to school (26th/Kenyon) from there. Yet before we started doing this, I don’t know that I was really aware of where to find the precinct, even though that is a common safety tip if you find yourself being followed while driving, for example – “drive to the police station.”

  • Heidi A January 30, 2015 (1:37 pm)

    What also needs to be addressed is Seattle Public School’s transportation policy. Last I checked, Middle and High School students don’t receive bus service. They are expected to take Metro or walk if they don’t have parents driving them. For elementary schools, they create “walk zones”. The walk zones are based on distance, often without considering WS’s unique topography and sometimes these walk zones include the staircases. When K-5 STEM was created those living in High Point were included in the walk zone, which would mean elementary school students using pathways and stairs down to Delridge. I believe StringCheese was able to get officials to come out and walk that crazy path themselves to re-evaluate.

    The point is – where is the district on these issues when all of teh victims appear to be SPS students walking to school???

    If it’s not safe for this girl to walk from her neighborhood to Denny, which it clearly is not, then the district should provide a bus for a safe route to school.

  • drb January 30, 2015 (1:45 pm)

    I remember (back in the day when things were much different in WS)…even then we walked with groups. At least with a friend. I would encourage that along with other precautions. And I agree guns are not the solution.

  • KM January 30, 2015 (3:15 pm)

    Heidi A-

    Instead of worrying about bus service or certain paths to protect those who are mature and capable enough to walk to school on their own, the focus should be on catching criminals and cutting back on crime, everywhere and against anyone. It should be save for anyone of any capable age to walk anywhere they so choose.

    The district should concern itself with the educating of the child, and police can worry about crime. There are schools out there who forbid their students from arriving at school without a parent (or leaving, for that matter), and I’d hate for SPS to be one of them. Fix the crime problem and allow for safe and independent development of our children.

  • Heidi A January 30, 2015 (5:05 pm)

    KM – why should it be one or the other?
    Shouldn’t we go after this every way possible and attack this on both fronts because it’s not safe NOW? I certainly hope crime will be solved by police, but back to reality – we have numerous students being robbed on their way to school.

  • Rob1 January 30, 2015 (6:00 pm)

    Just, well, 20 minutes ago while passing Delridge and Holden stairs, there were 3 SPD cruisers and at least 5 officers “surveying” the west end of the stair case. Maybe stepping things up a bit? Didn’t see another post of an issue there.

    • WSB January 30, 2015 (6:16 pm)

      Rob1, I’m not sure what that is about, flying blind as we mentioned in a story earlier because Tweets by Beat – which is an automated list of at least call types/locations/times, albeit minus details – is down until next week. Scanner information is fragmented at best so we rely on TBB to verify “oh, that was an X type of call” so we can follow up – otherwise, something has to be HUGE and OBVIOUS. Or, as happened with some of the more recent cases, we need to hear directly from a victim/relative. None of the above factors have occurred today, unfortunately.

  • KM January 30, 2015 (6:28 pm)

    Heidi-

    Numerous might be misleading, depending on your definition. These are still quite rare instances compared to the number of students who walk to and from school each day without harm. If it was common, it wouldn’t be news. It’s cause for concern and we need to do something about crime, I believe it is inaccurate to say that it’s not safe now.

    Keeping our community safe is important, and I don’t think putting more busses on the roads is going to fix crime, it could open up another host of safety issues for students, if we really want to drill down here. We’re coming from the same place of concern for our community and children here, I don’t believe putting capable middle & high school students on a bus is a solution. There’s no way to eliminate all risk to our children, and that’s okay.

  • cratewasher January 31, 2015 (9:57 am)

    Perfect spot for some cameras.

  • WSMom January 31, 2015 (11:59 am)

    Denny, Madison, Sealth and WSHS all have SPS bus service for students in the reference area, but not the walk zone. If you live outside of the reference area for the school you attend, SPS provides an Orca pass. Maybe some walk zones should be considered for busing. That is not right that a dangerous stair passage is the most direct route to Delridge Ave for the folks living in the neighborhoods above.

  • justwondering January 31, 2015 (2:12 pm)

    When do we get to the part where we stop criticizing everyone and everything and organize? As the responsible, caring, invested adult community we portray ourselves to be surely we can step away from our respective computers and come together to provide escorts for children walking to and from school…? To my mind an assembled, present public stands to make meaningful impact, not to mention change, through investment and involvement.

  • yakshaving February 2, 2015 (7:28 am)

    Speaking as a concerned, responsible parent who just moved to the neighborhood with a young daughter that I eventually plan on sending to public school in the area… What’s the best way to get involved to prevent incidents like this from happening?

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