Be extra-aware of burglars this holiday season. So warned the most recent newsletter from Seattle Police crime-prevention coordinators citywide. Though the burglary rate has dropped lately, according to Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen, a couple of cases have attracted attention these past couple days – some of which might even play into a citywide “pattern” that police are trying to break right now. We have that story plus a followup on a stolen car (including what the thief did with a card also stolen from the victim) – read on: Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Burglar(s) alert; stolen car found…
(6/28/2011 photo courtesy Kathryn)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One of our periodic peeks into various court files to check on ongoing cases has just yielded news: There’s been a plea bargain in last June’s arson/domestic violence case in Gatewood. It happened three weeks ago, but we just spotted it now, and it does not appear anyone else has reported this yet. The fire happened on June 28th; the only person hurt was the defendant and home co-owner, 40-year-old John C. Siegel, whose injuries were later described as self-inflicted. He was found sitting outside the home as it burned.
The case drew extra citywide attention because Siegel had just gotten out of jail a month earlier after a plea bargain in a domestic-violence case that also yielded a charge of threatening a judge (as reported by Seattle Weekly). He is a lawyer and has been representing himself in this case, as he did in that one; the list of files in the four-month-old arson case is longer than many lists from cases that have been going on for years, and full of documents he wrote by hand while in jail (where he’s been since the fire). Here’s what we found out about Siegel’s plea bargain: Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: Plea deal in domestic-violence arson…
Three West Seattle Crime Watch reports to share tonight, from the WSB inbox, including a break-in attempt late today whose victims say police told them about a “roaming” burglar, plus another burglary and a car theft – read on (**added Wed. morning, an additional burglary report): Click to read the rest of West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Roaming’ burglar; car theft; more…
Two West Seattle Cooper’s Hawk tales: First, Tom Furtwangler shares the top photo of a juvenile hawk spotted outside his Gatewood home – sighted by his wife, who happens to be urban-nature author Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Tom says it was there just a few minutes, and quotes Lyanda as saying, “I think it’s a male because it’s small for a Cooper’s, but that’s just speculation. It’s a hard time of year for newly fledged birds because they are just learning to hunt. I hope he makes it!” This provides the perfect lead-in to two other Cooper’s Hawk photos shared this week by nature photographer/writer Trileigh Tucker:
The first photo shows a young Cooper’s Hawk practicing her landing skills on a snag in Lincoln Park, and although the second photo (a different young female) looks like she’s showing off her new jewelry, she’s actually just getting ready to scratch her nose.
The bands they’re wearing were put on as part of an eight-year study being conducted to learn about Cooper’s Hawks’ nesting ecology and winter site fidelity. So readers should look carefully and see if they can find banded hawks in West Seattle! Sightings can be reported to the Washington Ornithological Society’s research page at wos.org/research — look for the instructions for “Accipiters and Merlins” at the top of the page.
Trileigh is now writing about her sightings, and celebrating “the beauty and power of next-door nature,” online here. She says her site “focuses on local natural history (especially Lincoln Park, of course!), and what we can learn both about nature and about ourselves from being attentive to the natural world in our backyards and beyond. Come take a look!”
Thanks to everyone who sent notes tonight wondering about sirens/police searching/etc. Sometimes, it’s nothing. In this case, we have information on two cases, after checking with police. First – the Wash House in the 6300 block of 35th SW (map) was robbed just after 9:30 pm. Southwest Precinct Lt. Alan Williams says the robbers were described as “four young-adult-age suspects, one of whom was armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun.” It was later found and turned out to be a pellet gun. It was used to hit the laundromat clerk in the head; Lt. Williams says Seattle Fire crews treated the clerk for a “laceration.” No arrests so far. We also asked about officers searching in the Gatewood area, around the 6700 block of 38th SW (map), in the 11 pm hour. He says a resident called 911 after hearing “noises outside her home”; officers searched but didn’t find anything.
Just in from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: Charges are now filed against 40-year-old John C. Siegel, the man arrested Tuesday night in connection with the fire that investigators say was set that morning at the Gatewood home he co-owns. The charges are 1st-degree arson/domestic violence and domestic violence/violation of a court order. Siegel remains in jail, awaiting arraignment on July 14th; he was arrested after being treated at Harborview Medical Center for a wrist injury that has been described as self-inflicted. Prosecutors have asked that his bail be set at $1 million. More after the jump: Click to read the rest of Gatewood fire suspect John Siegel charged with arson, domestic violence…
We’re just out of the King County Jail courtroom again, waiting for a potential appearance by Gatewood arson suspect John C. Siegel. Again today, he didn’t appear (no reason given, but suspects do have the right to waive an appearance), and the judge ordered that he continue to be held without bail. King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spokesperson Dan Donohoe tells us that Siegel will only be slated to appear tomorrow if they have not filed charges by afternoon. If they do file charges tomorrow, his next appearance would be for arraignment. Here’s our original report on his arrest Tuesday night, which links back to our earlier coverage of the Tuesday morning fire that did $100,000 damage to the home he co-owns on 39th SW near Orchard Street Ravine.
(Photo courtesy Kathryn)
Just in from the Seattle Fire Department - this morning’s fire in the 7100 block of 39th SW has been ruled arson. (Here’s our as-it-happened coverage from earlier.) We were just at the scene, where two SFD crews are keeping watch, and yellow tape remains across the south side of the property (the photo above shows the west side of the property):
(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)
SFD says damage to the structure totaled $75,000, damage to the contents totaled $30,000. Harborview Medical Center had confirmed to us earlier that the man brought there from the fire scene was in satisfactory condition; he is one of the people listed on county records as co-owners of the home. We talked to Detective Jeff Kappel in the Seattle Police media-response unit; he says no one is under arrest so far, since SFD had just made the arson determination, which means SPD’s investigation is just now getting under way. Meantime, tonight’s SFD news release says a firefighter also suffered “minor burns to his ear.” As reported earlier, crews found the fire burning in three separate rooms inside the home.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
The fire was reported by neighbors who called 911 around 10:30 this morning; fire crews got it under control within 15 minutes of arrival.
(TUESDAY EVENING NOTE: This fire has now been ruled arson, and we have started a new story here.)
(Photo courtesy Kathryn, added at 1:02 pm)
10:37 AM: On our way to check out the house-fire call in Gatewood, 7100 block of 39th SW.
(WSB photo by Tracy Record)
11:03 AM: One man taken to hospital.
(Photo courtesy Ben, taken shortly after firefighters arrived)
11:08 AM: Back from the scene – we still have two people there. We talked to neighbors who called 911 and said that at one point, a corner of the house was fully engulfed in flames. They didn’t see anyone else brought out of the house – just the man who was taken to the hospital. (We saw him on the stretcher before he was taken away – he appeared to be alert.) This is in a very steep area near Orchard Street Ravine. And yes, this is why choppers are here – TV news. Police are there to help investigate as well as to keep traffic away from the area.
(Video by Christopher Boffoli)
11:13 AM: Fire Department spokesperson Kyle Moore has just briefed media at the scene (video added 12:51 pm). Crews arriving at the fire about half an hour ago found the fire burning in three different areas of the house. The man who was taken to the hospital was found out front, Moore says, suffering from burns.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
12:13 PM: The address for the fire has been revised from the one that was originally on the 911 log. Research indicates that it may indeed have been vacant, as a commenter noted. Police are not confirming an arson investigation at this point. They have taped off the scene; SFD calls the fire “suspicious” since it was burning in three different spots – two bedrooms and the kitchen – when they arrived.
(WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
12:58 PM: We have confirmed the identity of the man who was taken to the hospital; he is listed in county records as a co-owner of the house. He is listed in satisfactory condition. We have also just gone back to the fire scene to check on the investigation; police and firefighters are still there – still no official cause, but we’re likely to find out within a few hours.
David B found that on his door in northern Gatewood (near West Seattle Thriftway) when he arrived home this evening and sent the photo, while wondering:
I am wondering if this is legitimate. It seems odd to me since this has no contact info and is not at least sponsored by the city. Have you had anybody report the same thing ?
Not recently. However, if you roam the Web, you will find many references to this sort of thing – some reported as scams, some not, one even described as an “emergency cash generator.” We checked the city business-license database and the state corporations database, and there’s nothing called “Community Sign Painting” in either one. Doesn’t mean this isn’t potentially legitimate – but unless you meet the people and ask to see their license, buyer beware.
Eagle-eyed WSB’ers have found stolen cars before – maybe you’ve seen this one. Out of the WSB inbox, from Angele:
My car was stolen between 7 pm Sunday night and 7:30 am Monday morning. It’s a white, 4 door, 1992 Nissan Maxima. Lic. #506SUN. It was stolen from California and Portland [map]. The car was locked, nothing visible on the inside, and the security system was intact. If anyone sees this car, please call 911. Thank you.
Tomorrow it’s back to school for Seattle Public Schools students, including those at West Seattle’s Gatewood Elementary, where 4th/5th-grade teacher Darren Radu shared some news and photos just before the break :
Gatewood students are completing their work on the Philanthropy Roundtable. Kids from grades K-5 came together to research organizations working for justice in the community, country, and world, in order to determine where to allocate a $1000 grant from last fall’s Penny Harvest. This year student leaders awarded Penny Harvest grants of $250 each to local organizations Nature Consortium and Southwest Boys and Girls Club, and $500 to the global relief group Save the Children Japan. Kids had some guidance from teachers, but did most of the research and made the final decisions on where to send the money themselves.
4th and 5th grade students have also been hard at work making paper cranes for Japan, supporting Students Rebuild. After a lot of patience and perseverance (it’s tougher than it looks to make those birds!), students folded 639 cranes to send, raising $1,278 in support of Japanese rebuilding efforts.
Thanks to all the families and community members for contributing to and supporting these efforts at Gatewood!
In case you’re wondering, the school year has two months left – according to the online SPS calendar, elementary and K-8 students’ last day is June 21st; for middle and high schools, it’s June 23rd.
(HELICOPTER NOTE: The Channel 7 chopper some have asked about in the 11 am hour was shooting this scene.)
Close call for a Gatewood family this morning! Mark Brent tweeted a photo after that tree fell this morning on the back of his house; we went over a short time ago to get the photo you see above, and to find out more about what happened. Mark told us his wife was inside that part of the house when she heard a noise – and suddenly, the tree came crashing down. Neither she nor anyone else was hurt. They’re currently working to find somebody to come over and take care of the tree; he says there are a couple other nearby trees that are of concern too.
7:01 AM: We’re on our way to a house fire in Gatewood, 4100 block of SW Southern (map). Per the scanner, initial crews are calling it a basement fire, and saying it’s under control. More to come.
7:14 AM UPDATE: Just added a photo. Per the scanner, the fire is tapped – firefighters are focusing on looking for spots of “extension,” where the fire might have moved from the basement, where they believe it started. Investigators have been summoned to help find out how it started. No report of any injuries.
7:22 AM UPDATE: Our crew at the scene just talked with firefighters. They confirm no injuries – the people who were home got out OK – the only big concern is a dog that might have been in the house at the time; they’re looking for the dog. Some of the fire units already have been released from the scene.
ADDED 8:05 AM: Photo of the actual house. Investigators are still en route.
2 quick West Seattle Crime Watch reports this afternoon from Gatewood and Arbor Heights. First, from Justine:
We switched cars with our business partner last Friday night and thought they were driving our car to the airport, it turns out they took a cab and left our car on the street in front of their house at approximately 39th and Southern [map]. When we went back to pick it up tonight, it was gone, and it had not been towed. We’d love it if you could let the neighborhood know, and if anyone spots a black Nissan Maxima with black leather interior, license number 469 UNP, please let the police know.
From an Arbor Heights resident:
A neighbor just came to my door to report that several vehicles on the block of 35th Ave. SW south of SW 102nd St. [map] were car prowled last night. The rear windows were either shot or punched out with a tool, according to police. Unclear if anything was taken, or if this was vandalism.
P.S. As we finished editing this update, we heard the police-radio dispatch for the aforementioned stolen Maxima, which reminds us that Seattle Police continue to keep a list of stolen cars via the Twitter account they launched earlier this winter, @getyourcarback – it’s featured on our Crime Watch page, if you’re not a Twitter member and ever want to check the list.
SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE: If you haven’t checked out the comment discussion – Justine found her car, thanks to Gary.
We would just like to let you know that we saw a coyote walking south down 44th St. at the intersection of Portland St. (Gatewood area) this morning about 10:15 am. It was a very healthy-looking animal, maybe 35 lbs. It trotted to the dead end of 44th just south of Portland [map] and disappeared down the slope toward Lincoln Park. Beautiful animal!
Via Twitter, James reported a coyote sighting on New Year’s Day – 27th/Othello vicinity (map). He says, “They were going after cats. I threw rocks at them.” (That is part of the official advice offered on this federal-government webpage.)
6:05 PM: On our way to check out the call in Gatewood, 6900 block of 40th SW (map), “assault with weapons.” Fire and police crews are there. Scanner says a victim’s being taken to Harborview Medical Center.
6:18 PM UPDATE: Scanner traffic indicates the medic unit is transporting a 45-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the head. We have two people at the scene and they say police are looking around but there is no indication yet about the circumstances of the shooting.
6:44 PM UPDATE: While police are still at the scene, and won’t confirm officially that this is believed to be self-inflicted, they do say they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the shooting.
ORIGINAL 3:15 PM REPORT: Just spotted by WSB co-publisher Patrick, who was driving, solo, and unable to photograph, a coyote running down the middle of California SW, southbound, at SW Holden in Gatewood (map). (He reported it as more of a traffic alert – since more than a few drivers had to slow down.) We suspect it’s off the main route now, as we just looked in that direction from California/Thistle and no sign of anything four-footed but a dog out jogging with its person.
ADDED 5:24 PM: From Jake:
I was jogging tonight in Camp Long around dusk. After doing a few laps of the trails, I decided to cut through the woods to the outer path of the golf course. Once there, I noticed a coyote running right at me. I stopped, stomped, and yelled, and it backed off. A few moments later, it again ran toward me and I stopped it the same way. Eventually I scared it off, and continued running south toward Hudson street. As I turned left along the fence, I saw two coyotes running silently toward me across the grass. I quickly cut through the Arborvitae and hopped the fence onto Hudson street. Very scary!! I’ve run and hiked in wooded areas all my life, and come across wildlife often. This is the first time I’ve ever been pursued. Please warn your readers about this!
Our Volvo wagon was broken into overnight. It was parked in our alley carport between Graham and Morgan/ 39th and 38th Sts. SW. (map) They rifled through the glove box and another compartment between the front seats. They took our daughter’s canvas swim bag from the back seat and scattered its contents down the alley: a purple swim cap, one pair of blue goggles, a green diamondback suit, a YMCA card. The sight of her cherished swim gear trashed in the alley was quite the cold awakening this morning for our seven year old. “Who could do such a thing?” she cried.
Another sad reminder, as per the current SPD awareness campaign, that *nothing* is safe, left in a vehicle – even if you are sure it’s something in which no thief would take an interest.
Gatewood Elementary students have just gathered a quarter-ton of pennies — but that’s only half their charitable work. Teacher Darren Radu, who also shared the photo, explains:
Over the past 4 weeks, kids from all classrooms worked together to bring in close to 500 pounds of pennies (and other coins) as part of the 2010 Penny Harvest. The bags of coins were shipped off to the local Penny Harvest offices last Thursday.
The next steps for the kids (in the New Year) will be to convene a Philanthropy Roundtable, where students from each grade will come together to research organizations working for justice in the community, country, and world, and determine which organizations are in most need of support. The Philanthropy Roundtable will then allocate grant funds from the pennies raised to these organizations. One of the Roundtable’s most important criteria is ‘leverage per dollar’ – the Philanthropists use their research to allocate funds in a way that works most effectively to make a positive difference in the world. Last year, Gatewood students awarded Penny Harvest grants to PAWS, Haiti Relief, the Mockingbird Society, and Child Haven. They had some guidance from teachers, but did most of the research and made the final decisions on where to send the money themselves.
The attached photo shows some of our many ‘harvesters’ with a few of the 30-pound bags they filled.
Big gratitude to the Gatewood community, families, and friends, for supporting this worthwhile work!
4th/5th Teacher at Gatewood Elementary
Many years, a December Saturday spent sampling holiday bazaars might have meant soggy – or even snowy – walks between your car and the front door of the school or church. Not today. The bright smiles inside reflected the bright sunshine outside as we stopped at two of the many West Seattle venues with holiday bazaars/sales today. Above, the Highland Park Elementary PTA presented a bake sale and bazaar to raise money for all the things PTA fundraising covers these days – right now, a big concern at HPE is the playground. Among the participants, a Girl Scout troop that came from outside West Seattle:
They’re raising money for a trip to Japan – in 2013. Their leader says she found an online listing for the bazaar, seeking vendors, so they decided it was the place to be. And in the hallway, a rummage sale to raise money for Highland Park students to go to camp:
HP dad Ryan said they’d already sold an entire table of merchandise earlier in the day and they’ve raised enough for three kids to go to camp – though they have more in need (here’s how to help). Also selling their wares today, artists and craftspeople we found in the social hall at the newly dedicated Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation church in Gatewood:
That’s Rose Sheppard, selling some of the pottery she’s made. And Laura Matson told us sales were going great for her handmade shibori cloth works:
Since WSUU just moved into the onetime Gatewood Baptist Church this fall, this is their first holiday bazaar (if you see this shortly after we publish it, they’re there till 4; enter from the church’s north parking lot along California north of Othello). As listed in the morning preview, today had many events like these – but there are still more to come, so keep your eyes on the bazaars/sales/tastings list toward the top of the WSB West Seattle Holidays page.
Two West Seattle Crime Watch reports tonight – first one from John in Gatewood:
I live on California Ave near Thistle Street [map]. We had a Christmas gift stolen off our front porch that was ordered off the internet and dropped by common carrier. I’ve heard of this happening but never experienced it until today. Probably happens more frequently than one would suspect. Just be aware there are bad guys out there. If it happened to us probably more will experience it this holiday season. Might want to warn W.S. residents. I’ve heard the crooks follow the trucks. Enjoy the Lego set, is all I can say. Hopefully someone who needs it more than our kids … eventually gets it.
Also tonight, Jen wanted to get the news out about an earlier burglary:
Not sure how to get this out, but our house was broken into today. We live at 32nd and Juneau [map], near High Point. It was between 10 am and 2 pm today. They threw a rock through the window, crawled through, and helped themselves to our electronics, jewelry, gift cards, etc etc etc.
Just want to get the word out and heighten awareness. Maybe it will help someone else going through what we are now.
(Photo courtesy Sweet Pea Cottage Preschool of the Arts)
A month and a half after the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation moved into its newly renovated church in Gatewood (which by the way will be formally dedicated in a ceremony tomorrow night), they are sharing some of the spacious church campus with Sweet Pea Cottage Preschool of the Arts, which announced its West Seattle plans earlier this year. This Tuesday night (October 26), Sweet Pea welcomes you to a grand-opening open house, 5:30-7 pm. They’re offering classroom tours, a chance to talk with the teaching staff, plus snacks, music, art projects, and face painting. Sweet Pea Cottage says it’s not just an event for prospective students, but also, “It’s a community celebration – all are welcome to join us. Bring friends, family members, and neighbors, too!” The address is 7141 California.
(Report on Pakistan flood-refugee camp, published last Saturday by The Guardian)
“The largest humanitarian crisis the international community has ever faced” is how Nazleen Ejarque describes the Pakistan flood disaster, in the announcement of a West Seattle benefit to reach out across the globe. Though the flooding happened two months ago, its aftermath continues to affect millions. On October 22nd, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation church in Gatewood (7141 California SW), Nazleen is organizing a fundraiser for FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, which is responding with search/rescue/evacuation as well as distributing food and medical/relief supplies. Food, dance performances, and henna painting are part of the plan; a $5 donation (for adults) is suggested. Nazleen says, “Please join us in this cause to help those in need…no matter their religion, color or class.” Here’s the full flyer for the 10/22 event. Questions? email@example.com
We previewed this here yesterday after receiving multiple notes from neighbors – and today, we’ve received more notes and calls now that it’s under way, so we went over to check it out: Scenes for a commercial promoting the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck are being shot today/tonight in the section of Gatewood between SW Morgan and the north side of Myrtle Reservoir. As with any kind of film shoot, there’s plenty of cool gear in use – note the setup atop the Mercedes:
And portable facilities to take care of whatever needs may arise:
Oh, and as for the star(s) of the show:
According to the flyer received by neighbors – who sent us a copy – the commercial will tell a “story played out every day as America goes to work.” Note the wardrobe-in-waiting (with that same man in the background):
The same flyer also makes it clear the neighborhood – near the highest point in Seattle – was chosen in large part for its skyline views, which would figure into the commercial. Neighbors were told the shoot may continue as late as 1 am tonight (tomorrow morning). Thanks again to those who e-mailed/called with tips about this! Shoots like this are coordinated with/through the City Office of Film and Music, whose website has interesting offshoots to explore, like the Insider’s Guide to Seattle Film Locations.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation closed the deal last April to buy the ex-Gatewood Baptist/Seattle International Church at California/Othello (map) – finally, a home of their own – they knew it was a fixer-upper.
What they didn’t know was just how much fixing up it eventually would need. But it’s almost done – done enough for the congregation to have its first service there tomorrow (Sunday) morning, right after a ribboncutting ceremony – the entire community’s invited – at 10:15 am.
We first toured the site last April with Rev. Peg Morgan, board president Paula vanHaagen, and congregation member Laura Matson, the day WSUU took possession. The same trio met us there this morning for a post-makeover tour, even as work continued inside and out – like final touches on the interior doors that rested atop sawhorses at midday, to be hung by day’s end:
They are taking great pride in the outside work as well as what’s inside – read on as our story continues with more photos:
We’ve received multiple notes from residents of a Gatewood neighborhood who got notices that a film crew is scheduled to be in their neighborhood Sunday afternoon/evening to shoot part of a commercial. No celebrities, apparently – the star of this show will be “the new Chevy Silverado,” according to the notice. They were looking at multiple locations at last word, but in case you see the trucks, lights, cameras – the filming could go as late as 1 am – that’s what it’s all about. The notice text indicates the area was chosen in no small part for its view of the cityscape in the distance.
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