West Seattle Crime Watch: Street-robbery reader report

According to Seattle Police‘s Tweets by Beat, there was a strong-arm robbery at California/Spokane this afternoon. Before we even saw that tweet, we received this report from a reader who reports witnessing it:

I witnessed this robbery/attack and feel compelled to write you. I am an eight-year West Seattle resident, but was appalled and shaken by seeing this event and how people behaved. I did not see the start of the robbery but here is what I did see:

As I came jogging down the block, I saw a loose circle of young people (roughly 10-14 year olds?) watching two guys kicking and beating each other on the sidewalk in front of the Westside Presbyterian Church. A metro bus was parked there with its doors open and it looked like the two guys had come from there. Initially I thought it was two teen boys so I ran towards them screaming at them to stop fighting. The two adult men broke apart and the victim started yelling that he was being robbed, please someone call the police and that the other guy had his Orca card… The victim seemed to be in shock and he just kept yelling for help, then sort of halfheartedly ran after the attacker how took off around the corner. The metro bus just closed its doors and drove off.

It’s bad enough seeing this in broad daylight in my beloved neighborhood. But observing the non-reaction around me was even more disturbing. I am a 5’3″ woman – so no help in a fight, and I didn’t have my own phone on hand because I was jogging. But no other adult did anything. No one came out from the church until the event was well and truly over. Nobody driving by, or nearby construction workers paid any attention. The kids did not even get out of the way of these two adult, and potentially dangerous, men fighting. I asked not one, but two separate kids to call 911. That’s when the kids got bored and started to leave. And I’m sorry to say that every one of those kids had their cell phones IN THEIR HANDS the whole time and looked like they were texting and taking pictures: Not calling the police, not running into the church for help, not even leaving the scene for their own safety.

I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help, but I’m even more sorry that we’ve become such a frightened and careless culture that people who could have helped didn’t. And shame on those kids for treating it like entertainment – they should have at least had the good sense to get far away from such an explosive situation.

We won’t be able to get the police report any sooner than tomorrow, so we don’t know the status of the investigation, including whether anyone was arrested and how the victim is doing.

41 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Street-robbery reader report"

  • Parent of Terrified Witness November 5, 2015 (7:10 pm)

    My son was one of the kids that witnessed this robbery and he was not with any other kids. He was not treating it like entertainment, nor taking pictures, videos or texting friends about the situation. He was terrified and didn’t know what to do, which I take full responsibility for not talking to him about what he should do in this situation because I have admittedly always felt safe and secure in this neighborhood. He was very concerned because one of the suspects told the witnesses that they “better not be snitchin'”. So, my son was in shock, went down the street, called me and wanted to know what he should do. He then did call 911 and gave a description of the event and the suspects. I have since had a conversation about what he could do different if he came across that situation again. Before you start shaming all the kids and making assumptions, take into consideration that they might be just as scared as you, may not feel like they could help either and may have been texting parents asking for advice. From my son’s perspective, he felt that there were plenty of adults around that also did not do anything. I hope the victim is okay and that they found the suspects. It is very concerning that this happened where all of my kids walk home from school and often get on the Metro at that bus stop.

  • DD November 5, 2015 (7:13 pm)

    This is so terribly disturbing on so many levels. And why did the metro bus driver not call 911 at the minimum…as it sounds like the incident was in view of that driver. Hope your account will stimulate some conversations in homes in this neighborhood between parents and their children, and perhaps uncover details that will lead to help for the victim and apprehending the attacker.

  • brizone November 5, 2015 (7:40 pm)

    Ya, also wondering if that driver called it in. If not, something is very, VERY wrong there. (So much for those “Safe Place” stickers on the buses, eh?)

  • QBert November 5, 2015 (7:40 pm)

    The first commenter hit the nail on the head, if not intentionally. The way people treat their children as if they are all precious snowflakes beyond reproach has created a generation of self absorbed entitled little sociopaths. The parents insist, “Never my sweet baby”, all the while enabling this behavior to continue.
    As far as expecting people like bus drivers and construction workers to do anything other than ooze apathy, I’m not sure what planet you’re living on.

  • WS4life November 5, 2015 (8:11 pm)

    How absolutely unsettling and disturbing. This is not the same WS I grew up in anymore, been here for 39 years. Even I don’t feel very safe walking outside after dark by myself anymore and I’m 265 6’4 male.
    After having my truck stolen, of which I still have not found, along with the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve taken in losses. I think my affinity for WS is gone. Don’t let the superficial beauty fool you folks. This place just keeps getting worse and worse.

    Cars I’ve had stolen/taken from me since the age of 16:
    ’89 GSX-R $3500 loss
    ’89 Accord $10,000 loss
    ’85 Lincoln $500 loss
    ’95 Civic $8000 loss
    ’62 Impala $4500 loss
    ’86 Toyota pickup $5000 loss incident # 15-359078

    That list doesn’t even include cars that have been vandalized or accessories and other property that were stolen.

  • sc November 5, 2015 (8:17 pm)

    To Parent of Terrified Witness
    How old is your son?
    If he saw a fire would he need to consult you before he made the call to 911?

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (or children) to do nothing.”

    Edmund Burke

  • JTB November 5, 2015 (8:51 pm)

    QBert, I’m less persuaded we have a generation of self absorbed entitled little sociopaths than an internet culture in which people hurl uninformed aspersions far too easily.

  • Dadof3 November 5, 2015 (8:54 pm)

    Sc – I think you are out of line. First off we are talking about a kid. He was probably scared. Everyone is a tough guy (Ben Carson) when talking about what they would do. Don’t know this boy and can’t vouch for him. But you have no idea how he felt or how strong of a person he is.

    Qbert – bus drivers and construction workers cant be expected to ever do the right thing? Nice generalization…

  • Barry2012 November 5, 2015 (8:57 pm)

    ^this comment is ridiculous. The kid was scared and wasn’t sure what to do. Key word: KID. He called his mom to ask for advice-clearly he was scared. He then did the right thing after talking to his mom.

    No one knows how they will react in intense and scary situation until you’re faced with one-that applies to kids and adults. period.

  • The voice of REASON November 5, 2015 (9:13 pm)

    Wake up, people!!! The mere idea of ANYone “getting involved” for a stinking ORCA CARD is absurd!!!

    Any Orca cardholder can go to the source and have the card turned-off (rendered worthless).

    So the criminal might get one or two rides on our flagging, overpriced bus system for his huge, criminal risk.

    What reason could someone possibly have, beyond ‘personal pride’, for *fighting* over an ORCA card??

  • Barry2012 November 5, 2015 (9:24 pm)

    Just to be clear my comment was directed at SC

  • BMC November 5, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    Yeah, don’t blame the kid – just last week I tried to dial 911 on some weirdness in White Center, and what did I keep doing? trying to dial 911 on the screen unlock!!

  • Scott November 5, 2015 (9:44 pm)

    Well I did hear the man yelling from inside the church asking for someone to call 911. I had ran outside to find out what was going on. Unfortunately I had forgotten my cell phone on my desk. I ended up findind an adult male yelling that he had been rob for his cell phone. There was another adult calling 911 with a slow response time (on hold). The other person involved was a 15 year old boy from West Seattle HS and a girl. The story they gave was there was a lady on the bus with a dog and the man was bothered by that dog and was giving her a hard time. The high school kid told him to leave her alone and the adult ended up pushing the kid. It sounds like the adult ended up dropping all his stuff and someone might had picked the phone up on the bus or it was missed placed in the melee. The kid did end up emptying his pockets for the lady in the alley and they did not have the phone on them. They were trying to get away from him as he was out of control. It does sound like the kid ended up protecting himself from this Adult. It also souls like a kid did get video of the incedent and that was provide to the police. As for the kids all around. Yes, they were scared and yes most of them don’t have an idea of what to do in a scary situation. I found the one girl crying as she was scared. It was relayed to her that if at any time she felt unsafe that the Church is a safe place and that she is welcome. In the end this was not a good situation.

  • JoAnn November 5, 2015 (9:52 pm)

    My daughter was also there and was terrified and crying. She said that people did come out of the church to calm kids down and an extremely nice woman from Swedish medical center came over and talked with her and made her feel safer. She just started riding the city bus this school year and is a KID. The fact that she has never had to call 911 and wasn’t sure what to do is precisely because she is a kid.

  • Steve November 5, 2015 (9:57 pm)

    Can someone give a description of these perps?

  • SRRA November 5, 2015 (9:58 pm)

    As an emergency contact for a child who was at that bus stop today I also received a panicked phone call. The child was very scared. I didn’t know the full extent of the situation until reading this– all of the adults around and someone is seriously pointing fingers at terrified CHILDREN for not doing something?! I felt horrible earlier for being able to do anything other than offering advice and reassurance over the phone. Now I am disgusted that the adults there are throwing blame on the children who were innocent bystanders in the situation. I truly hope everyone is okay. Including the kids who are completely freaked out by witnessing the robbery.

  • pjmanley November 5, 2015 (10:26 pm)

    Neighbors: I think we’d all do well to cool our passions and lay off each other. Incidents like this are aberrations from the norm, and we can’t expect everyone to act perfectly like a superhero or a cop in TV, especially teens. And we should all realize that hindsight is always 20-20, especially on the web, so the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve stuff is pretty convenient after the fact. It happened and let’s get on with the task of identifying the perpetrators and hopefully getting such vermin off the street.

  • faceless November 5, 2015 (11:12 pm)

    this is shameful- someone should have kicked the guys butt and I don’t care if it was just an orca card- he should have his head knocked off.

  • captain Dave November 5, 2015 (11:30 pm)

    …But then their is old-fashioned common sense. If people want to live in a civilized society, they have to be willing to do the things it takes to uphold social values–including teaching their children to not be complacent about crime. The more we tolerate crime, the more it will happen. Lets not make excuses for people who look the other way unless you want our city to end up like Detroit.

  • Longtime Observer November 6, 2015 (12:31 am)

    I am going to believe the account of the witness who sent in the account. I live very close by and if this would have happened directly outside of my house I probably wouldn’t have even looked outside. Because every afternoon during the school year there is some sort of commotion from the Madison kids walking home or wherever they go. These are pre/young teens often beating the hell out of each other, screaming obscenities and throwing their 7-11 trash everywhere. Maybe your kids act right at home, but you’d probably be shocked to see their behavior when you’re not around.

  • Laura November 6, 2015 (6:24 am)

    Perspective is everything. I hope the victim is okay, and that the witnesses who felt traumatized get a chance to process what they saw, and brainstorm how they might react differently in the future. That would probably help those kiddos (and hopefully the adults around) to react without panic in the future. Disregarding the judgement regarding the witnesses, I’m sorry the robber got away.

  • Gina November 6, 2015 (7:06 am)

    Good teaching moment for the kids. If you are not able to render aid, move away from the disturbances. Could save yourself from injury if a weapon is pulled out. A good idea for adults, too.

  • Knee jerks when the sky falls November 6, 2015 (7:16 am)

    Always entertaining comments when crime happens.

    1) Crime is not new. Crime rate is significantly lower than in the 1970’s. Even the grumpy “WS is ruined” guy lists car thefts from when he was 16. Banditry, Highway Robbery, Mugging are the second oldest professions. We just hear about crime more frequently because of the plethora of media outlets. We used to have to wait for a town crier or a parable to hear about robberies.

    2) Failure to act when witnessing crime is not a sign of moral degeneration or poor home training but rather a matter of brain science and social psychology. There is a fight or flee response to fear that is well known but there is also a “freeze” response. The frontal lobes simply shut down in response to fear and it takes practice to override this. Practice is also called “basic training” in the military. It is not a natural response to leap into danger. The social psychology aspect is called “diffusion of responsibility” everyone thinks everyone else will act. It is not under volitional control particularly and was first noted when Kitty Genovese was murdered in earshot of over seventy neighbors (in the otherwise crime-free year of 1964) who neither intervened nor called police. After this hit the news (later not immediately on a blog) scientists interviewed the witnesses and clarified this phenomenon which also has been confirmed experimentally. Individuals will insist that these brain or psychological phenomena do not apply to them but anecdote is not evidence.

  • iggy November 6, 2015 (7:29 am)

    And the Metro driver didn’t call 911 and the Metro police, since it sounds like altercation started on the bus? And the Metro driver sat there with the bus door open? Doesn’t Metro have driver training for issues such as this?

  • cratewasher November 6, 2015 (8:01 am)

    Can no one remember what the perpetrators looked like/were wearing?

  • There was no perpetrator November 6, 2015 (8:15 am)

    There was no perpetrator, it was a man who lost control on the bus and started blaming a high school kid and started yelling at other kids. And if there was a perp it most likely wasn’t the kids he was after. It could have been someone else on the bus who took advantage of the situation.

  • CWilson November 6, 2015 (8:17 am)

    My teenagers were on the bus and next to the people directly involved when this incident began. As in most situations, there is more to the story. It involved a dog and its owner on the bus, a passenger angry there was a dog on the bus, a brother and sister who defended the dog being on the bus… yes, it became a fight and continued on the sidewalk and down the street. My daughters believe the man yelling for help was the instigator. My daughters believe the bus driver said there was something wrong with his communication system on the bus. They believe he called it in when he arrived at the junction.

    Side note, but related…My daughters ride the bus to and from West Seattle High each day. They have a bus incident to describe almost every week. It adds to the stress of their day, but they are thankful our stop is early enough on the route for them to still get on. They often watch students left at their stop when the 128 is full. Those folks will wait 30 minutes for the next bus and be late for school.

  • sc November 6, 2015 (8:57 am)

    I am in agreement with Gina.
    And possible situations that children could encounter any day, and what they might do, or not do, at that time, should be discussed with parents or guardians before they happen.
    There may not be time to call on a cell phone to ask advice. And that call may not be answered in a timely manner.

  • datamuse November 6, 2015 (8:57 am)

    I was working at Bumbershoot one year when a fight broke out, the antagonists were surrounded by a couple dozen *grown adults* who did nothing so I really think people should lay off the kids here, especially since it sounds like a) some of these kids had a better idea what was going on than the witness who contacted WSB and b) some of them DID call 911.
    I’m wondering if some of the people commenting on this post actually know anyone under the age of 25. Sociopaths? Really?

  • westseaneighbor November 6, 2015 (9:13 am)

    I’ve been assaulted on a metro bus before by an unstable person. It happened when HE brushed into my leg as he walked through the aisle (I was seated) and he began a tirade threatening to kill me. Bus driver said nothing, did nothing. Maybe they are trained to not intervene for their own safety and that of other passengers. It made me upset at the time, but I can understand why they might not want to get involved. After all, they are bus drivers, not transit cops.

  • Purple Ribbons for Everyone November 6, 2015 (10:45 am)

    As a born, raised, and still WS resident, crime is WAY LESS of an issue than it was 30+ years ago. Yes, this incident sucks, but if someone gets in a fight now (for example), everyone wants the police to drop everything and come save the day. All of the preparation you do for yourself and/or your kids will not let you know how someone will react when a situation like this takes place.

    As a lifelong WS resident it seems to me that ever since people started moving into our town and paying $500,000 for house that are worth half that, the views of what a bad neighborhood have skyrocketed. I guess when you move here from a place where fraud is the most serious crime anything is scary.

    If you have lived in West Seattle long enough to remember what Shakey’s is, you will remember when crime was a real issue in West Seattle, long long ago.

  • Easynow November 6, 2015 (11:34 am)

    Purple Ribbons for Everyone, A house is worth whatever the market will bear. It’s a shame that you can’t say that this is a safe area (good thing) without insulting people who moved here recently.

  • Kimmy November 6, 2015 (1:26 pm)

    Sorry to hear this happened. I have noticed people are less willing to help those in distress in Seattle than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, bigger cities than ours and country towns too. Seattle natives and residents seem to have their heads down more than anyone else, and it has always made me uncomfortable.

  • justme November 6, 2015 (3:12 pm)

    I was walking my dog and could hear the arguments from the next alley over. It was very hard to tell what was going on as both parties were yelling at each other. One man yelling at a couple in their mid 20’s that they stole his iPod. At the same time the woman was yelling that he assaulted them. There really was no way of telling what was going on by listening to one accuse the other and back and forth.
    I have a vague description of the couple who were accused of stealing from the other gentleman. She was heavy set with medium length dark brown hair wearing bright pink in her hoodie. The guy with her had a backpack and a black and gray checked hoodie and a baseball cap. But like I said, both parties were accusing the other of stealing something. I didn’t see them by the bus, I didn’t catch eye of them until they were behind the church.

  • Scott November 6, 2015 (4:06 pm)

    The couple was not in their mid 20’s. They were 15 years old. FYI the man was back walking around outside today looking for these kids.

  • mike November 6, 2015 (8:33 pm)

    I’m ready to move out.

  • lee November 7, 2015 (10:45 am)

    WHEN someone is arrested for assault or whatever..PUNISH them!!! No little slaps on the wrists…these punks will learn a hard lesson if a hard lesson is applied. The law needs to crack down hard.

  • Deborah November 7, 2015 (10:53 am)

    I know the person that wrote this letter. What is left out is the she turned to 1 high-school aged kid with phone in hand and said “you…call 911.” That kid walked away. Second kid she did the same thing and said “please call 911.” Same response. I do not think that this is unexpected involvement. Good that you talk about it when the “kids” get home. Clearly a failure of human compassion perhaps fueled by some sort of fear, but failure none the less. If you were the person who was attacked and had your whole wallet plus other contents of your backpack that you haul every day to work, wouldn’t you be grateful that someone else’s son or daughter at least called the police? Let’s take this as a civic lesson and talk about how we can educate all our citizens to be safe yet compassionate and responsive or we all should live as hermits.

  • PSC617 November 8, 2015 (11:15 am)

    Always enjoy the commentary. I’m new to WS and say thanks to the WSB. I ride the bus daily. I’ve witnessed verbal and physical altercations. I have called 911, intervened when appropriate, and have had to ask the stunned/scared Bus Drivers to take action. Glad kids are being educated to be aware of their surroundings, to remove themselves from danger immediately, and call 911 when they can safely do so–preferablly before texting and calling Mom and Dad. Be safe ~ Head on a swivel ~ Get off the X.

  • Lauri November 9, 2015 (3:46 pm)

    My daughter was also one of the children present and confirms the details of the argument being about a dog on the bus. She also said the bus driver told the passengers at the next stop that they would have to wait for a moment while he called the police. I think it’s a pretty good guess that drivers are instructed to get away from the scene before notifying authorities.From what my daughter described it was a frightening scene and a couple of kids got knocked over when the pair collided with them. The kids were scared. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the woman who wrote the original post -as well as some of those who commented -does/do not have children.

  • James Randy November 10, 2015 (10:26 am)

    The two kids were 15. The man was putting his hands on the boy he had every right to remove the man from the bus and bring him to the ground. The man stayed holding on to him so he started swinging for him to realese him which he did not. So all these comments saying the kid is in the wrong, when a man in his late 30’s or early 40’s in putting his hands on a child that he does not personally kno then he should be ready for a kid to react and take matters into their own hands. No kids got knocked down all of these comments are irrelevant a lot of these people saying they were here is bull poop, the kids did not steal anything from this man they did knock the phone out of his hands while he was trying to take a picture of them. The boy finally took things into his hands when the problem with the guy went from the girl dog and man to his sister and the man, if you have a little sister you would do anything to protect them lets just be thankful it’s not worse

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