WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Woman grabbed on path behind Westwood Village Target

Sorry to have another disturbing incident to report today, but we also wanted to thank the people who e-mailed us to ask about it, after they saw the victim’s husband’s post on a neighborhood group but didn’t see anything about the incident on WSB and thought more people should know. Saturday night, a woman was grabbed while walking on the path (photo above) to 28th SW from behind Westwood Village Target. We obtained the police report today. The narrative begins with officers being dispatched at 7:49 pm Saturday to a nearby residence where they found the victim, a woman in her 30s:

(The victim) stated that she was walking home from Westwood Village when she cut through a walkway that connects the parking lot to 28 Av SW. (The victim) stated that she was walking when she observed a man standing in the walkway. As (the victim) walked by the man, she stated that he grabbed her left shoulder and squeezed. (The victim) stated that the unidentified suspect mumbled something to her, but she could not understand what he said. (The victim) reported that the suspect appeared to be intoxicated.

(She) described the suspect as a W/M [white male], ín his early 20s, with short blond hair and wearing a dark gray sweatshirt with blue jeans. (The victim) also stated that the suspect is around 5’10-6′ tall and thin.

(She) explained that she often walks through the walkway and has not previously seen the suspect. She also stated that it is an area where transients frequentÌy hang out and sleep. (She) reported that it has been an ongoing issue with transient people sleepinq and staying in the area of the walkway. (She) explained that there are multiple beds made of cardboard, un-capped needles, trash, and empty alcohol bottles littering the walkway. I advised (the victim) to call the SW Community Policing Team regarding the ongoing issues.

The report says the officer then searched the area and didn’t find anyone resembling the suspect, and that the victim did not have injuries requiring treatment. After obtaining the report, we went over for a look at the pathway – the photo above looks back toward Target, and we noted this syringe along the way:

Community Police Team contacts for the Southwest Precinct, by the way, are listed here – eastern West Seattle sectors are assigned to Officer O’Neil. Also of note, this is a few blocks east of where 2 students walking to school were inappropriately approached a week ago, and not much further from where two other students were flashed last Friday.

45 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Woman grabbed on path behind Westwood Village Target"

  • NMT October 10, 2017 (6:27 pm)

    For those wondering (it came up quickly on the neighborhood site) the property this path runs through is owned by Target, who has not been very responsive to requests to maintain it.

    • WSB October 10, 2017 (6:32 pm)

      It’s frequently noted by both parties that Target (and its site) is not technically part of Westwood Village. Cardboard beds weren’t in evidence when we walked through this afternoon but we did notice that Target’s cardboard compactor (might not be the technical term for it) is right there by the south side of the pathway, and that may be a source of cardboard when night falls. – TR

  • Justme October 10, 2017 (6:53 pm)

    I’m wondering what you did about the needle. I work in a local shop in the junction. We had a customer shop a bit, then go outside and shoot up, leaving the needle in front of our shop. I put on gloves and proceeded to figure out what to do with it. In the correct manner of course. Well, trying not to throw it in a regular garbage can, I called everyone from 911, the non emergency line, all local pharmacies, the walk in clinic, and nobody would help or suggest how to appropriately dispose of the syringe. I was frustrated that we haven’t even figured this out yet. I wrapped it in paper towels and threw it in the garbage can on the street. Yet, we are told not to do this.

    • Elle Nell October 10, 2017 (7:59 pm)

      YOu can put it in a plastic bottle with a lid and throw it in the garbage. 

      • sb2780 October 10, 2017 (9:56 pm)

        So the plastic bottle and the syringe can then both end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch sitting in the middle of the ocean? Good idea!

    • Kirsten October 11, 2017 (3:51 pm)

      I’m almost positive there is a needle exchange in the QFC bathroom in the junction, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Never handle a needle without gloves though! I’ve used my shoe with a thick rubber sole to nudge it into a bottle or a bag then held it away from my body.

    • liveinthearea October 12, 2017 (9:07 am)

      still there! just walked past it!

  • waikikigirl October 10, 2017 (7:12 pm)

    @justme…We have a diabetic cat to which we throw his used syringes into an empty cat litter jug and when full we take to our Vet. Yes they charge for the disposal  of them but it’s the proper way. I think you can take to the transfer station too (Haz Mat area).

    I realize its not the same with “the ones you find” but…

  • Nancy W October 10, 2017 (7:12 pm)

    I frequently walk through this area on my way to Westwood and this place has been a mess for a long time with needles, garbage and other items that indicate people are sleeping there. I am sure that I encountered the individual mentioned  a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday , He was sitting in the middle of the walkway filling what looked like small bottle’s with alcohol. He did not say anything to me or try to touch me but I was very uncomfortable, I will not walk this way again.

    • Heather October 11, 2017 (11:42 am)

      I too walk through here frequently. From the debris, it’s clear people sleep there and there’s often reminents of what looks to be stolen mail.

  • flimflam October 10, 2017 (7:25 pm)

    right. so this is the fault of target? 

    we need basic laws enforced. that would be a big help and starting point. i’m not sure why this notion is so unpopular – if someone could explain i’m all ears.

    • Wsrez October 10, 2017 (8:11 pm)

      Totally agree flimflam and I’ve been saying it for years. Low level crimes aren’t enforced and they should be. It would also be great if who ever owns this land, maintained it. Way too often, property owners and even city property falls into poor shape. The city has a reactive solution. Rather than proactively go out and monitor things they put the burden on the citizen to report it. But even then it doesn’t always get resolved. In my experience, getting anything fixed is the exception. I get so frustrated living in Seattle sometimes.

    • Jethro Marx October 10, 2017 (10:20 pm)

      Sure:

       1. Not enough police officers to arrest random drug users/loiterers/public inebriates.

       2. No room in jail even if they were arrested.

       3. No good place for them to go if they were arrested, jailed for a while, then released.

       4. Not enough money allocated to address 1,2,&3.

       In short, the answer is, a circle has no beginning.

       As for the assault, that ain’t Target’s fault, it’s the fault of the alleged assaulter.

    • NMT October 11, 2017 (4:55 am)

      It’s the fault of the perpetrator, obviously.  And when he’s caught he’ll be charged with the crime he committed.

      But I’m curious which other “basic laws” you think need to be enforced.  It matters that this is private property.  Target is allowed to say people can sleep on its property.  By default it is assumed they have permission to be there unless Target calls the police and says they’re trespassing.  SPD can’t patrol private property and arrest people for sleeping there without the owner’s consent. 

      Littering or leaving junk everywhere is also not something SPD can roll onto private property and cite someone for (lucky for my neighbors, let me tell you).

      Okay, so the drug use is illegal.  Cool.  We know from decades of criminalizing drug use that “enforcing” the laws really just fills prisons, costs the taxpayers billions, and doesn’t fix the problem.  

      I hear this “enforce the law!” mantra pop up whenever a crime happens that appears to involve a homeless person.  It’s not helpful.  What would help make this path safer is the community letting Target know we’re not okay with them neglecting the path and asking them to either maintain it better or fence it off completely.  Ask them to add lighting.  Ask them to have their in-store security patrol outside once in a while and report problems.  Target is responsible for the land, so ask them to take care of it.

  • Morgan October 10, 2017 (7:26 pm)

    Time to tear down and rebuild Westwood village….looks old and tired and suburban layout not fitting for the city.

  • MercyMoi October 10, 2017 (7:36 pm)

    To JUSTME, I’ve been taught that the most accessible tool for disposing found syringes is a plastic beverage bottle. An empty two-liter soda bottle is ideal but a small empty bottle of water would work too. Something hard and plastic. The kitty litter jug mentioned would be good for collecting many sharps. I’m also thinking one of those plastic containers for laundry detergent pods…

    Hope this helps someone in your situation (not fun!).

  • Josh October 10, 2017 (7:56 pm)

    My family uses that path about 2-3 times a week, and it does always feel sketchy. It’s dark, somewhat private/overgrown, and definitely people hang out there- tons of trash! I notice Target in general is dirtier than how Westwood keeps its space (and landscaping) up. They just don’t seem to care but it’s true, this isn’t their fault.

    Ever since Westwood became a bus hub there’s been nothing but problems- at the shoppIng center, that park, and the surrounding neighborhood.

    We won’t be using that path any longer that’s for sure.

  • NW October 10, 2017 (8:02 pm)

    If this was in my own neighborhood close to where I live I’d go over with broom dustpan trashgrabber and garbage bags and some fellow interested neighbors and clean it up, often. 

  • Justme October 10, 2017 (8:06 pm)

    Great tips on disposing needles. We’re not suppose to put the plastic bottles in the regular garbage though, so because I found the needle then I have to pay to dispose of it correctly? This is where it gets left unanswered. We can’t expect merchants to go buy a sharps container, then pay again to dispose of it. While we also can’t expect people finding them in random places to spend their own money throwing them away responsibly either. I’m sure down town has this all figured out through the street ambassador program, but the junction definitely needs a solution.

    Not to overshadow the main story here. I truly am sorry to read about the victim’s run in with the scary transient.

    • Elle Nell October 10, 2017 (9:56 pm)

      It becomes garbage when it has a dirty needle in it…and this is our community. We take care of it.

      Lots of complaining theses days… seriously getting old. 

      Life will ALwAys have problems, it’s how we deal with them that makes the difference… 

    • AJP October 11, 2017 (12:20 pm)

      Recently I found a needle on the sidewalk. Luckily there was also an empty soda can nearby. I put the soda can upright, then covered my hand with my sleeve and using one hand dropped the needle in the can. I set the soda can out of the way of foot traffic, then reported it to the city. It was picked up less than four hours later. http://www.seattle.gov/customer-service-bureau/hazardous-materials-reporting

  • Iwantout October 10, 2017 (8:31 pm)

    I understand there has always been crime here but things seem more creepy then ever. Needles, knife attacks, dogs being thrown from windows. I felt safer in New York City. 

  • furor scribendi October 10, 2017 (8:35 pm)

    This pathway existed, formally or informally, from before there was a Target. Even when the Ernst/Malmo home improvement store was nearby (up to and including the late 80’s) there have been issues with this passageway. I seem to remember a consortium of sorts (Westwood Village management, the city, perhaps Target) helped build the current walk and plantings, so Westwood management should also be a focus of inquiry on how to make this area more safe. Also, sharps containers are available from the Seattle Health Dept, for free, the last time I checked. 

  • miws October 10, 2017 (8:36 pm)

    From SPU, disposal of sharps:

    http://www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/WhereDoesItGo/HazardousItems/NeedlesSyringes/index.htm

    Mike

    • dsa October 10, 2017 (10:06 pm)

      What a surprise, there is a sharps disposal station at:

      Roxhill Park (2850 SW Roxbury St, Seattle, WA 98126)

  • Kerwitty October 10, 2017 (9:01 pm)

    We bought a sharps container from Bartells that we use to dispose of needles left on the streets. You return it to them when it is full and they will dispose of it. Not a huge issue but happens occasionally but we wanted to be proactive about making sure our staff have the tools they need to be safe if they come across needles. 

  • justme October 10, 2017 (9:20 pm)

    Thanks Mike! Perfect. I’ll be saving that link for sure. Now why couldn’t the cops on the phone just tell me that? Good thing we have the WSB.

    • newnative October 11, 2017 (9:00 am)

      The Blog here has had a list of these phone numbers, for quite a while now. I called the SPU number last year to report a syringe in the Admiral District.  I find it really disturbing to think of all those syringes in garbage cans.

  • nachobeaver October 10, 2017 (9:29 pm)

    this has happened a couple times now!! not the attack portion.. but our neighbor has been followed twice by this same guy!! she works at westwood and says he panhandles down there constantly.. and she has to call security for an escort at night to her car.. she has notified spd too..

  • Bonnie October 10, 2017 (10:11 pm)

    Was this the path at 28th and Henderson?  I have told my daughter repeatedly to not go down that way. I never see anything until I hit a her spot right there entering Westwood village. And no. I

    dont blame Westwood village or target but the city who can’t get a handle on these problems  

    • WSB October 10, 2017 (10:17 pm)

      That’s what it looks like on this map –
      https://goo.gl/maps/FzKbdHXX4572

      • Bonnie October 11, 2017 (6:57 am)

        Thanks Tracy, I was looking on my phone so it’s harder to figure out.  I have walked that way often since it’s a straight shot from my house, past the library to Westwood Village but the last few times I have seen sketchy people who made me go out of my way to walk along Barton or Trenton.  I have told my daughter repeatedly to not walk that way but she still does since it’s easier but we will have to put a stop to that ASAP.

        • Bonnie October 11, 2017 (7:13 am)

          Another thought.  Could someone (WV or the city) cut all those bushes back or take them out?  It would be ugly but less places for people to hide.

          • BoscoDaduck October 11, 2017 (8:24 am)

            I saw them doing some of that yesterday around the compactors but no where else.

  • Hoku October 10, 2017 (10:36 pm)

    Got to the same place on the map based on description provided. Really crummy: likely designed as a pleasant walkway. And now it’s not. So sorry. Working with SPD Community Police Team is good idea.

    • WSB October 10, 2017 (10:42 pm)

      It was, years ago … my son and I often took that shortcut when taking a long walk to WWV’s former Jamba Juice; it was a slightly shorter route than continuing on down Trenton and around the post office. But that was last decade.

  • D Del Rio October 11, 2017 (6:09 am)

    All these problems seemed to have started when they made Westwood a bus hub. Dear Metro, not everyone who lives in the southern part of West Seattle and White Center needs to go to Westwood Village.

  • The Velvet Bulldog October 11, 2017 (8:09 am)

    Neighbors who live near this path have actually been very proactive in trying to get something done about the mess – and we’re finally seeing some results after YEARS of trying to get Westwood AND Target to address the ongoing issues. We’ve done our own cleanup when they wouldn’t, and have been involving city departments to get Target to step up to their responsibility to clean up graffiti, etc. 

    Is it Target’s “fault” that this odd little area has become a shelter for transients and drug-users? Of course not – is it their responsibility to keep their private property from becoming a community nuisance (just as a home owner would be held responsible?) – absolutely. 

    Thanks to continuing pressure from neighbors, Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office has turned their attention to this matter, and brought SPU in to work with Target management to find some solutions to restore this area to a neighbor-friendly walking path. 
    Now if we can just get the city to help clean up all the falling leaves and needles on that downhill area of Henderson…  (And yes, the neighbors cleaned that up last year.)
  • ScubaFrog October 11, 2017 (10:58 am)

    I wonder if it’s the same pervert, or a spate of perverts.  This is sick and scary.

    Situational Awareness is key (a Self Defense course would probably be appropriate too, and mace etc.).  Sadly we’re always going to have vulnerabilities, particularly our youngest members of society.

  • BoscoDaduck October 11, 2017 (12:33 pm)

    Unless there is more that occurred that hasn’t been posted, could this possibly have been someone in need and not an assault? 

    • flimflam October 11, 2017 (4:21 pm)

      oh please. in my opinion it is thoughts like this that have us in the current situation regarding transients in general but especially dangerous ones.

      • Please October 11, 2017 (7:17 pm)

        I was wondering when this would start. Yes- let’s all rush to defend grabby lurker, and whine about how society has driven him to do this..

  • West Seattle Hipster October 11, 2017 (1:19 pm)

    In need of grabbing someone on the shoulder?

  • flynlo October 11, 2017 (7:48 pm)

    I sent a link to this article to Target Corporate Hq. Media Relations.  Included the comment that the King County Assessor claims that Target corporate owns the property.   Interesting to see if I ever hear back!!  Anyone want to place bets?

    • The Velvet Bulldog October 12, 2017 (11:48 am)

      If you do hear back, let us know. There’s no question about whether or not Target owns the property, they’ve just been ignoring the situation until recently when Councilmember Herbold’s office and some city departments got involved. 

      FWIW, the neighbors have been notifying the SW Precinct of activity here for years as well. I’ve even talked with cops at WW Village while there was open drug activity in progress. They did show up–about half an hour later after their coffee break and after the users had gone. 

      It’s been very frustrating, and while I’m so sorry that this woman got the crap scared out of her, I hope the resulting public attention will lead to some positive action. 

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