West Seattle, Washington
The Guardian One helicopter was over Westwood for a while within the past hour, but left to head to a South King County investigation just as we arrived in the area. Now they’ve tweeted what brought them here:
Assisted @SeattlePD with searching for a adult male wearing brown scrubs who was committed to Navos and left in the area of 2600 SW Holden.
— KCSOAirsupport (@KCSOAirsupport) September 16, 2017
We don’t know whether that person has been found yet.
5:35 AM: Thanks for the tips. The helicopter you might have heard over White Center/South Delridge was TV, checking out a fire call on 16th in downtown WC, just south of Roxbury. West Seattle fire units were dispatched for mutual aid for a while. We have a crew checking it out.
5:52 AM: What caught fire was a refrigerated truck trailer parked by a building at 15th/SW 98th that firefighters also say sustained damage. No injuries. Power’s out because lines were involved. (The TV helicopter has long since moved on to something else elsewhere in the region.)
6:13 AM: Added photos. Metro says buses that use 15th SW in the area might be affected; fire trucks were still blocking that street when we left a few minutes ago – we’ll be going back after sunrise for a closer look.
9:58 AM: The investigation continues:
In the photo above, you can see the blackened area where the fire spread to the building by which the trailer was parked.
3:11 PM: If you saw the police response on Delridge – with Guardian One overhead for a while – a short time ago, here’s what we know so far: They were following a vehicle, described as a gold or beige pickup truck type of vehicle, that did some sort of damage outside Home Depot. Per the scanner, the driver headed onto the eastbound bridge, then Northbound 99, and into downtown. A different precinct picked up the search there, so we don’t know if the driver eventually was stopped; meantime, we’re off to look at the reported local damage.
3:33 PM: Photos added, above. The damage was primarily to plants and shrubs that were on display outside the store.
11:12 AM: Thanks for the tips about the Guardian One law-enforcement helicopter over North Delridge and vicinity. We just talked to Seattle Police, who say they are looking for a suspect in a reported break-in in the 4500 block of 23rd SW [map]. They do have a partial description; black, male, 6’2″, dreadlocks, dark top and red shorts, last seen leaving on foot. If you have any information, call 911.
ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Paige, whose home was broken into, tells her story in this comment.
6:34 PM: Thanks for the texts and calls. The Guardian One helicopter’s search in the Westwood area is over and the crew has explained via Twitter: “Located a missing developmentally delayed juvenile for @SeattlePD near 2800 SW Thistle.”
6:43 PM: We have since confirmed this with police on the ground, near Southwest Community Center. They said the call originally came in as a possible runaway; the juvenile and their mom have since been reunited.
7:16 PM: Thanks for all the texts – we were en route somewhere else when we got word that a helicopter was over north West Seattle, and as soon as we verified via flight-tracker that it was Guardian One, we headed that way in hopes of finding police on the ground who could tell us what was going on. But the helicopter left as soon as we arrived in the area, and we couldn’t find officers on the ground. However, Guardian One does sometimes tweet a brief mention of what they were doing, once they’re clear, and they have just tweeted this:
— KCSOAirsupport (@KCSOAirsupport) September 2, 2017
If we find out anything more, we’ll let you know.
7:24 PM: We just stopped by the precinct to ask. What happened was that a man with dementia had wandered away. He has since been found and is OK.
As was the case during the other pre-holiday Friday afternoons this summer, TV helicopters have been hovering over the Fauntleroy ferry dock – first, the KING/KOMO helicopter around 3 pm, and right now the KIRO helicopter. Fridays have been difficult even without holiday traffic, as Vashon-bound riders are acutely aware, with Washington State Ferries continuing to struggle with attempts to improve loading times, but today has an extra problem – the route remains on a 2-boat schedule because vessel problems have left the system painfully short on backups. WSF says boats are running up to half an hour behind that schedule right now, too.
Two West Seattle Crime Watch notes:
WESTWOOD SEARCH: Thanks for the texts. Just northeast of Westwood Village, the King County Sheriff’s Office search is related to this car:
Deputies tell us they tried to pull it over and the driver wouldn’t stop. Finally he pulled over, got out and bolted. The description: White man, white T-shirt, possibly a scrape-type injury to the head, and “lips” tattooed on his neck. If you think you see/have seen him, call 911.
(added) And yes, this is why the Guardian One helicopter is/was in the area.
(8:53 PM) Commenters say the suspect was caught. (Texted photo added)
We’re headed back to see what we can verify.
(9:05 PM) We talked with SPD officers who originally responded to back up KCSO. They arrested the suspect after their K-9 found him in blackberries near 23rd/Trenton. He’s been turned iver to KCSO.
(Back to original report) Also tonight, another dumped, likely stolen bicycle:
BICYCLE FOUND: Marci says this bicycle turned up on Aikins SW, which is upslope from Beach Drive, and no one in the neighborhood recognizes it. Let us know if you know whose it is.
2:56 PM: Sorry this took a while, and thanks for all the calls and texts about the helicopter search in the High Point area. We finally found police on the ground to ask – on our second trip to the precinct: A medic call just before 2 pm near Neighborhood House High Point was for a pedestrian hit by a hit-run driver. Police were looking for what was described as a male driver in a silver SUV. Hasn’t been found yet. The victim was not seriously hurt, so far as we know – they weren’t transported by Seattle Fire medic unit – but we’re confirming with SFD.
5:16 PM: SFD says the victim was a boy, “approximately” 13, taken to the hospital by private ambulance in stable condition.
8:09 PM: Police are at 16th and Barton investigating a reported exchange of gunfire, and radio discussion says they have found shell casings, but no victims, and that those who were involved are believed to have gotten into at least two vehicles and left. More to come.
8:19 PM: If you heard/saw a helicopter, that was Guardian One looking around for anything matching what descriptions police have so far of the vehicles – white mid-2000s Mercedes SUV, and a black vehicle.
8:25 PM: Our crew has talked with police at the scene. No property damage so far as they can tell; they say they have found one confirmed shell casing, 9mm. Along with the aforementioned white SUV, the description of the second vehicle involved is now black or blue. By the way, if you’re a bit south of the scene and noticing police pulled over with a silver car, near 15th/Roxbury, that’s NOT believed to be related – they noticed plates on the car that were reported as stolen, and pulled it over.
8:40 PM: Our crew says police are wrapping up at the scene. No further reports of progress on finding those responsible, but if you have any information, call 911.
8:44 PM: Now police are investigating a report that one nearby residence was hit by a bullet.
9:31 PM: We went back over to find out more about that. Police confirm that a bullet went into an apartment two buildings south of Barton, along the alley between 16th and 17th.
SIDE NOTE: From SPD’s latest SeaStat briefing last week (last page here), the Southwest Precinct – West Seattle and South Park – has had 41 confirmed “shots fired” (meaning confirmed because of shell casings and/or property damage and/or victims), second after the South Precinct, which has had 111.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) July 25, 2017
10:44 AM: If you’re anywhere near Alki and noticing the Guardian One helicopter over a Seattle Fire fireboat – it’s not a rescue, it’s a drill. This is part of a demonstration SFD has been putting on for us and the citywide media this past half-hour, showcasing the new SFD “rescue swimmer” program. Lots of photos, video, and info to come!
11:24 AM: The demonstration is over and we’re back at headquarters. SFD explains that this new program is meant to bridge the gap between a regular response and deployment of the Dive Team (which is based in SODO), but is not replacing any existing components or units – this is an addition, as explained by SFD Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon:
SFD says 38 firefighters are now trained as “rescue swimmers,” and the department’s goal is to have at least nine on duty in each 24-hour period, stationed around the city – not just deployed via certain stations. They’ve been in training, including with the help of partners such as West Pierce Fire and Rescue (south of Tacoma), and officially launched these new duties as of last Wednesday. Whenever there’s a water-rescue response, dispatchers will ensure that two rescue swimmers are part of the response. They can deploy from almost anywhere/anything – boats, beaches, piers, rocky shorelines, etc.
Their gear, which also was explained at the demonstration, includes a yellow “marker buoy” they can deploy to help divers that follow them into the water, if applicable.
This is a pilot program, SFD says, that will be evaluated after a year.
Meantime, besides emergencies, their planned upcoming assignments include Seafair weekend on Lake Washington, when four teams of two swimmers will be on duty.
For everyone wondering about this (we’ve just answered several inquiries): We just got confirmation from the King County Sheriff’s Office that the helicopter some are seeing/hearing is Guardian 2 (a military-surplus UH-1 Huey), going back and forth to Vashon because of an all-day SWAT-team-training exercise on the island.
4:59 PM: Just TV flying over the ferry dock, doing holiday-getaway traffic reports. 90-minute wait at Fauntleroy per Washington State Ferries.
6:03 PM: Finally got a chance to check out the ferry lineup. Not bad at all right now – ends south of the main Lincoln Park parking lot.
6:14 PM: Thanks for the tips. Guardian One has been in the Westcrest Park area for a bit, but we don’t yet know what the search is for. Will update if/when we find out.
6:33 PM: Guardian One says via Twitter that they are helping police look for a missing child, described as wearing orange shorts, missing near 4th and Cambridge.
7:16 PM: SPD has yet to say anything about the search but someone just texted us to say it was her neighbor’s child and that he has been located.
2:15 PM: If you saw the big Seattle Police response in Sunrise Heights/Westwood – with a brief appearance by the Guardian One helicopter – here’s what we’ve found out: Someone saw a package theft in progress, called 911, and gave police a description of the alleged thieves’ vehicle. Police arrived, spotted the car, stopped it in an alley east of 35th and Thistle, and took two people into custody. (Thanks to @MetPatrick22 for the tweet about the search, which was first we’d heard of this.)
2:30 PM: Since this happened such a short time ago, SPD media relations doesn’t have details yet, but they were able to tell us that the original theft report was near 35th/Trenton, not too far from the arrest scene.
The King County Council has finalized its budget. Back in September, we mentioned two items in County Executive Dow Constantine‘s original proposal, so here’s an update on how those fared:
The first was a plan to cut the KC Sheriff’s Office Air Support Unit, which would have meant no more helicopter availability for Seattle Police as well as other agencies assisted by the KCSO helicopters. The final budget did NOT include that cut, so the helicopter will stay in service.
Second, the proposal to provide “stable funding” for the King County Water Taxi (West Seattle to downtown and Vashon Island to downtown) stayed in the budget, according to a statement from King County Council chair Joe McDermott, who represents the areas served by the Water Taxi. As we reported in September, the funding will come from a levy that is already in place, originally intended for the Water Taxi, then shifted to buses, now shifted back.
4:23 PM: Thanks for the tips about Guardian One over White Center/Highland Park. According to the King County Sheriff’s Office, they were looking for someone in connection with an armed robbery at a business in the 9800 block of
15th 16th SW in WC.
4:29 PM: The helicopter has since headed south; KCSO’s Sgt. Cindi West says it was heading next to a stolen-car-possibly-found call in Burien.
9:02 PM: Covering the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting for our partner site White Center Now, we’ve just heard more information from KCSO’s White Center storefront deputy Bill Kennamer. He says “four dudes with four guns” held up Lawless Clothing in downtown White Center, but the business does not want to press charges and will not give investigators access to what its cameras captured.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
So far we’ve found two big items of interest in King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s two-year budget proposal, made public this morning.
*The King County Water Taxi, serving West Seattle and Vashon, would have a “stable source” of funding – 1.25 cents per $1,000 valuation. The levy was reduced in 2009 and “reserves” have been used since then, but, says the budget book, “those reserves are now exhausted.”
*The King County Air Support Unit, including this area’s only law-enforcement helicopter Guardian One, will be shut down by 2018 unless, Constantine says, there’s tax reform. In 2017 it would be limited to search-and-rescue operations in King County; in 2018, it would be shut down entirely.
First, the Water Taxi toplines, from the 753-page full budget document:
*The county currently has been taxing for the passenger-ferry service at a third of a cent per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. That funding has been supplemented by reserves that the budget says have run out. Constantine proposes increasing the tax rate to 1.25 cents per $1,000 starting next year because the service is “no longer able to draw on reserves to stay afloat.” (Math = $2/year now if your property is assessed at $600,000; just under $8/year with the increase.) Without that increase, next year wouldrun $3 million short. The gap already has been narrowed, the budget book points out, by “efficiencies” enabling the new boats to be operated with a crew of 3 rather than 4.
(added 6:53 pm) King County DOT spokesperson Jeff Switzer sent this clarification:
Taxes won’t be going up as a result of this budget.
The collected property tax amount will stay the same, meaning the county will reduce the property tax collected for Metro by just over $9 million, and the property tax collected for Water Taxi (Marine) will be increased by just over $9 million. No net dollar increase in property tax collections for marine/transit.
The budget calls for another fare increase in 2018, 50 cents for adults, to continue its every-two-year increases.
And one more major Water Taxi note – while there’s no money for it in this two-year budget, there is a line item to “plan, design, and construct a new West Seattle (Water Taxi) terminal during the 2019-2010 budget cycle,” noting that Seacrest has always been meant as just a “temporary” terminal.
*Next, the helicopter elimination, which is just one of several major public-safety cuts in the county executive’s budget, explained in the news release about the budget, with a call for “local tax reform”:
… King County’s General Fund primarily supports criminal justice and other functions required by the state. About 59 percent of net General Fund revenues come from property taxes. The balance is comprised of sales tax and other sources.
In 2007, legislators reinstated Tim Eyman’s I-747, which had been tossed out by the state Supreme Court. The law arbitrarily limited revenue growth in most property taxes to 1 percent annually. The value of new construction is added to the tax base, which amounts to about 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent depending on the economy.
Because property tax is limited below the rate of population growth and inflation, the General Fund is chronically stressed. Last year, about 37,000 people moved to King County, adding to the demands for transit, behavioral and mental health programs, public safety, and other services.
Over the last few months, Executive Constantine worked with the Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget, county departments, and elected officials to balance the $1.6 billion General Fund budget. Through a mix of revenue changes, efficiencies, and spending reductions, Executive Constantine resolved a $22.4 million shortfall.
Program cuts and service reductions in this budget include:
*Reductions in the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
*Closing the work release facility and electronic home detention programs by Jan. 1, 2018.
*Eliminating inmate booking at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent as of Jan. 1, 2018.
*Eliminating the King County Sheriff’s Office air support and marine units by Jan. 1, 2018.
“We will do everything we can to mitigate the impact of these cuts, but let there be no mistake — unless the Legislature fixes the problem, these reductions will only get worse over time,” said Executive Constantine. “And local governments across the state face the identical situation.”
While Guardian One is operated by King County, it is the only helicopter available for regional law-enforcement agencies including Seattle Police.
We’re still reading the county budget and will report on anything else of direct local interest. It now will go through a review-and-comment process in the weeks ahead – find the details here. Our area’s County Councilmember is Joe McDermott, so if you have something to say about these issues or others in the budget, you can e-mail him at email@example.com.
2:02 PM: Thanks for the tips. We’re hearing Guardian One too. The helicopter showed up concurrent with a report of a possible burglary near Fauntleroy Park – we’re checking to find out more.
2:09 PM: Police are in the 4000 block of SW Barton, for what we still believe, so far, is a possible burglary investigation. That abuts the Fauntleroy Park greenbelt, on which they are focusing as well.
2:24 PM: Police are now searching the house that was the subject of the burglary report – our photographer reports that the residents came home and let them in. Fauntleroy has had an uptick in burglaries recently, as mentioned in our coverage of the Fauntleroy Community Association meeting this past Tuesday; we reported on a break-in near Lincoln Park just yesterday.
2:35 PM: No word of an arrest yet. But a sighting that *might* (or might not) have been related – someone who told us about hearing the burglary alarm said they saw several people jump into a “black Acura” near Fauntleroy Church – we know police have that tip as well, as it’s been mentioned over the air.
2:37 PM: Our photographer is back with this image of police when they were outside the house with guns drawn about 20 minutes ago, before determining whether anyone was still inside:
If you were seeing/hearing the helicopter hovering in the Arbor Heights/Fauntleroy vicinity – no, nothing going on, just TV checking on the ferry traffic as the holiday weekend gets under way. Most recent report from Washington State Ferries was that Fauntleroy had a one-hour wait, not unusual for a summer Friday. You can see the “live” cameras at and near the terminal by going here.
1:57 PM: Sorry it took a while to find out why the helicopter was over Morgan Junction, but Guardian One itself just solved the mystery, tweeting – after leaving the area – that it was helping SPD with a car-prowl suspect who has since been “detained in Lincoln Park.” We’re now seeing police along Fauntleroy toward the park’s north end and hope to ask them for a little more information. (P.S. Thanks for all the texts and calls.)
2:10 PM: Just talked with police by the park. They tell us it was reported as a car prowl in the 7000 block of California SW and they tracked the suspect to the park. (Our photo was taken as they placed him in a police vehicle.) Guardian One wasn’t called out specifically for this – but happened to be in the area and asked if they’d like some help. Police are still looking for possible car-prowl loot the alleged prowler might have ditched in the area.
Just in from Seattle Fire via Twitter: Training in the next hour or so at the Joint Training Facility will involve a Washington National Guard Blackhawk helicopter working with SFD. So if you see one in the area – that’s what it’s about. (The JTF is in southeastern West Seattle, 9401 Myers Way S.)
This one, we haven’t solved yet. Lots of texts – a few with photos, including the one above – wondering about this: A low-flying helicopter was off Alki for a while this evening, near a yacht at one point, near an Argosy Cruises boat at another point. Neither the boat nor the helicopter showed on trackers, so we haven’t figured out yet who/what/why – from some past stories, looked to us like a possible photo shoot. Any info, we’d love to hear it, in comments or via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks!