Admiral rock-throwing arrests: How police cracked the case


What you see in that photo is the aftermath of one of dozens of rock- and brick-throwing incidents that targeted residents and drivers in West Seattle, mostly the Admiral area, over the past few months – in this case, the brick was thrown through the glass door of a home, causing almost a thousand dollars damage, as well as a psychological toll. The victim tells WSB, “The greatest impact was not the financial aspect but the random act of vandalism and violence. The sound of the brick through the glass and not knowing what it was. Then the fear and uncertainty. My poor dog was traumatized and has been jumpy since.” It’s a miracle none of these incidents hurt anyone; in past cases in other areas, this sort of attack has been deadly. We told you about the first two arrests; now we know that Southwest Precinct police have identified and talked with four suspects in all — three are 13 years old, one is 14. But what we didn’t know till talking further with the folks at the precinct is the backstory of how Officer Patrick Chang cracked the case, if you’ll pardon the phrase – it involves confessions, MySpace bragging, and more:

First, let’s go back to the first we heard of all this – exactly one month ago – with the brick-throwing incident reported by the victim and posted on the WSB Crime Watch page.

Then, on January 31, a reader report of the first arrest.

The next day, police confirmed the arrest and the fact they were looking for two other suspects. Last Wednesday came word of a second arrest; the third one happened after that, and then the fourth.

At first, police didn’t know there was a fourth suspect – till Officer Chang’s sleuthing work revealed the full scope of what and who was involved. #4 is a 14-year-old ninth-grader who lives with his grandmother in West Seattle. According to the report Officer Chang filed after talking with the fourth suspect last Thursday night, the boy first said the others were throwing rocks, but he had only been throwing “pine cones.”

Then, he said, he did throw some rocks — but only at his friends. As he continued to talk, the officer wrote, he continued changing his story. Continuing to work on how to get to the truth, Officer Chang told the boy he would like to be shown where his friends had been throwing rocks. He and his guardians agreed. He directed Officer Chang to an area near the Delridge Community Center, where he said he and his friends hid behind trees and threw things at cars on 26th SW. He continued to insist he himself had only thrown “pine cones.” But when the officer asked what might happen if they went to see the boy’s friends and asked if he had thrown rocks at cars, he said, “It’s hard.” Officer Chang asked, “Hard to tell the truth?” The boy: “Yeah.” He then admitted he had thrown rocks at cars not only near the community center, but also in the 3800 block of Admiral, and the 3700 block of Admiral, where he showed the officer a tall hedge with a fence where he said he and two others had thrown rocks at cars passing on Admiral and then hid.

That matched information Officer Chang already had obtained; he and the suspect talked more at the precinct, at which time, according to the police report, the boy “admitted to throwing approximately 45 rocks at moving cars … He admitted to hitting 5-6 cars. (He) also admitted to throwing Christmas decoration light bulbs at cars, pine cones at cars, rocks at houses, and also using the slingshot to propel a rock and tennis ball at cars. (He) also confirmed he has been involved in illegal graffiti … All these incidents occurred in December 2007 and January 2008.”

Later, the officer writes, after being taken home and released to the custody of his grandmother, the boy admitted to her “that he had lied earlier, and gave her the true version of events.”

At the end of the boy’s four-page statement, Officer Chang asked him, “What have you learned from all this?” His reply: “I’ve learned it’s stupid to do illegal things and that I’m never going to do it again. Also not to hang out with bad kids.”

We also have additional information about the second and third suspects in the case, both just 13 years old. We’ll call them Suspect #2 and #3, as they are described in the police reports; Officer Chang learned about them during the investigation following the arrest of Suspect #1.

Most notably, #2 actually had a MySpace page where, in big bold lettering, he had set his status as “… running from the popo!” (slang for police) and elsewhere on his MySpace site, in similarly big lettering, it said “THE POPO WILL NEVER CATCH ME!” (Later in this story, you’ll see how that online boast later changed.)

The first of the two whom Officer Chang talked with was Suspect #3, who admitted he and #2 had been throwing rocks at cars and houses since December. Police had been in previous contact with them regarding “possession of Air Soft pistols.” He said he had thrown rocks at cars “about 18” times, and also pointed out the 3700-3900 block of Admiral, saying the rocks were obtained from a planting strip in the 3800 block of Admiral.

A few days later, Officer Chang talked with Suspect #2, who he discovered was named on a warrant for theft. He too admitted involvement in the rock-throwing, saying he had thrown rocks at cars on about 50 occasions, maybe 400 rocks that he thought hit about 60 cars – and also 3 or 4 houses. According to the police account of their conversation, this suspect “explained that it all started in December after they stole Christmas decoration lights from the Youth & Family Services building there [on Delridge] and threw light bulbs at passing cars. Then one day [suspect #3] (had) the idea of throwing rocks instead, so they all began throwing rocks.” He showed Officer Chang the same stretch of Admiral Way, as well as a spot at Admiral and Walnut, at the west end of the Admiral Bridge.

In his subsequent official statement, Suspect #2 “described how one of his thrown rocks cracked the front passenger window of a newer model silver station wagon … that vehicle contained two occupants, one was sitting in the front passenger seat … (He) also described how he and (suspect #3) each threw a brick at the front door window of (a house on Admiral) … threw rocks and broke windows out at a house near Madison Middle School …” and broke out windows with rocks at a home in the 3200 block of 46th SW.

While talking with this suspect, Officer Chang asked, “What was your intent in throwing these rocks?” The boy’s answer: “We really didn’t have a purpose … we were just messing around.” Asked why he wrote about “running from the popo” on MySpace, he replied, “‘Cause I was feeling cocky.”

It should be noted that after his arrest, the page later changed to “(user) got arrested by Seattle Popo,” “(user) got arrested and CHANG’ED,” and “THE POPO DID CATCH ME!”

Finally, we have the story of Suspect #3, who also admitted to Officer Chang what he had done. He said he recalled throwing rocks on up to 18 separate days in December and January, at least 50 rocks in all, perhaps hitting up to 15 cars. He told the story of the day the rock-throwing stopped: “When (suspect #2) threw the rock at that one car and (suspect #1, the first arrested) got caught. … I was going to the library to work on my school project. And when I finished, I decided to go to Jack in the Box because I was hungry … And then (he, suspects #1 and #2) just started hanging out. (Suspect #2) threw a rock at a red truck. It was parked in a little cul-de-sac. And that’s when the guy in the white minivan car whatever said, ‘Hey you little s—s, get over here!’ And then he started chasing us. … I jumped over a little fence and I hopped on a Metro bus to get away from the area.”

He and suspect #2 weren’t arrested till days later, but they both knew #1 was arrested that night.

So now, all four suspects have been contacted and have confessed. The question is what will happen to them in terms of charges and court action; the next step is up to King County juvenile prosecutors. Information on such cases is not easy to get because of confidentiality laws, but we will let you know whatever we are able to find out.

28 Replies to "Admiral rock-throwing arrests: How police cracked the case"

  • JoB February 11, 2008 (11:23 am)

    we have to give our kids more to do than throw rocks.. that means actually funding programs that interest them.

  • John February 11, 2008 (11:33 am)

    Just a thought – but people may want to consider when they place “throwable” size rocks in publicly accessible areas around their homes or businesses. 99.999% of the passerbyers will never do anything with them, but that one punk will really be a pain.

  • Aidan Hadley February 11, 2008 (11:35 am)

    Yeah, JoB. And while “WE” are busying funding programs that interest them, maybe their parents and guardians can do a little bit of parenting at the same time. In a country in which kids can amass an arsenal of weapons and walk into a high school blasting without their parents ever knowing about it, maybe part of the solution is once again those folks who are asleep at the parenting wheel. Or perhaps we need a crackdown on those violent rock-throwing video games.

  • Scott J. February 11, 2008 (11:39 am)

    How about a swift kick in the ass? One for the parents, too.

  • Gina February 11, 2008 (11:44 am)

    He went to the library to work on a school project. He had enough money to go eat at Jack In the Box.

    What kind of programs are you suggesting to entertain him? Boy Scouts? The Y? Free movies and video games? Forced group participation in activities? Free ice cream and soda pop?

    Maybe they are just at the rotten kid stage, and their lives can go in one of two directions. In the pits, or back on track.

  • JunctionJana February 11, 2008 (11:50 am)

    Officer Patrick Chang deserves some kind of an award. His heart for these troubled teens is huge, and he should be honored in some way for the contribution that he makes to our community. I’ve seen him at work before in other situations and he is really a blessing to our West Seattle Community. I nominate him!

  • liws February 11, 2008 (11:55 am)

    Parents in this case should be held accountable for their kids actions.

  • Melissa February 11, 2008 (11:56 am)

    I wonder if these kids were also responsible for breaking the window at 4000 Admiral Way (the dentist office)? That was over 6 months ago, so it may be unrelated.

  • tippy February 11, 2008 (12:13 pm)

    In todays “everybody’s packin'” world, those kids are lucky the guy in the white mini van didn’t do more than chase them.

    I agree that the parents should be held accountable, but it may be the case that this isn’t possible. In that event there is a whole lot of garbage that needs to be picked up – minimum wage until the debt is paid off. Actions need accountability, swift and terrible.

  • JoB February 11, 2008 (12:19 pm)

    i agree that parent’s should be held accountable…

    but aren’t we fighting over funding a skateboard park? and what happened to all those good after school programs?

    I know when i was young and had two younger brothers, my mom chose a house a block from a recreation center (that is now closed due to lack of funding) so that my young brothers would have something to occupy them every day of the week… as she had to work and was counting on a teenager to keep them in line.

    they were literally too tired and too busy to get into much trouble.

    one’s a retired fireman.. the other a soon to be retired policeman.

    I hate to think what they could have become given some of the neighbors if they hadn’t spent every day at the rec center.

    by the way… my brother’s participated in free programs since mom was a single mother supporting 4 kids…

    it’s too easy to blame the parents while we are voting to cut the programs that support them.

  • old timer February 11, 2008 (12:20 pm)

    I have the most profound respect and gratitude for Officer Chang.
    He stepped up to the challenge of the twisted, smelly, and oh so useless world of the pointless adolescent to find some kind of justice for the victims.
    He has succeeded.

    Parenting has indeed failed,
    And once again, society as a whole pays for this.

    Maybe performance bonds should be required before people can obtain a breeding license?

    I don’t know, I’ll go back to my room now.

  • Alki Res. February 11, 2008 (12:35 pm)

    Well the new thing now is standing on a corner
    holding up a sign admitting your mistake. Maybe they should hold up a sign with a Bulls-eye on it and stand along Admiral Way… whatch ya think?

  • 140.6 February 11, 2008 (12:58 pm)

    As always Pat, great job!

  • snowlion February 11, 2008 (1:11 pm)

    We had an issue over on Fauntleroy with two little boys who would run up to our house after dark, and kick our front door. The first time, we did not see them, and called the non-emergency police number to come out -there was a footprint on our door. The second time it happened, my husband was up and out the door a lot faster this time, and he saw both boys and the apartment complex down the street that they ran into. He yelled at them as loudly as possible. These incidents both happend around 9pm, and the boys in question were easily 13 years of age and under (two of them). We have seen the kids since, walking with an adult in front of our house, and they won’t so much as look in the direction of our home, but I have to wonder where the hell these kids parents are, that two children of this age are running around at that hour of the night, in the middle of the week? I’m sure that raising chilren is difficult, but what is so important that it requires you to not be supervising your children at 9pm, when they should be in bed?
    I agree – parenting has failed. It seems that all the people who should be having kids aren’t, and a crop of losers who should never breed have been popping out kids like it’s the newest fad. I feel sorry for the people who have had to deal with this BS, and think maybe parents should spend less time being their kids’ “friends”, and more time teaching their kids to have some respect for the world around them.

  • J February 11, 2008 (1:12 pm)

    Go Alki Res! That hard thing is, these kids have NO role models or support from their parents/guardians. When our house was broken into by an 17 yr old and 15 yr old, we had to go to court to testify against them. They were both considered runaways and they both were at their court hearing alone. It broke my heart that they didn’t have a parent or guardian there to support them or even give them the stink eye!

  • JohnR February 11, 2008 (1:24 pm)

    There should be some constructive consequence. Perhaps the homeowners whose property was damaged could use some yard work if not some glazing. Perhaps there is graffiti that can be cleaned or painted out. It might be useful to show how much work it takes to undo the damage.

  • JoB February 11, 2008 (1:27 pm)

    i like JohnR’s suggestion.

    community restitution is good.

  • lala February 11, 2008 (1:50 pm)

    With the courts like they are, I wouldn’t expect anything much to happen in terms of a good punishment for these kids.  
    I too have issues with younger-teenagers walking home from school. For some reason they think it’s fun to try and push my fence down. No idea why, it’s a boring looking wooden fence. I try and remember when I used to walk to and from school when I was their age and if I could even imagine touching anything on any properties I passed.  
    And as for funding public programs to keep kids occupied? I was a latch-key kid. I didn’t have to go to a community center after school to keep me out of trouble. I had a good mom who was a good parent, and I knew the difference between right and wrong. It’s the age of entitlement when it comes to kids these days. They feel they are allowed to do anything they want. Sorry, but I’m getting really sick of it. 
    I also think it’s really sad that the parents obviously won’t take 5 minutes to set up a MySpace account to keep tabs on their kids online. Bragging about being on the run from the police… Great parenting.

  • Bernicki February 11, 2008 (2:00 pm)

    Of course, kids this age should know better than to throw rocks at cars and houses, which is the sort of guidance we generally assume parents are giving their kids. However, any kid, even one with strict, caring parents who are involved in every aspect of their lives, can slip out and raise some hell when his/her parents aren’t looking (cf. Bernicki, age 16). The true test of parenting is after the kid gets caught. Does the parent blow it off, or does the hammer come down? In my case, it was the latter. (Even though my worst offense involved not rocks, but lots and lots of toilet paper…)

    I sincerely hope these kids’ parents and guardians are now ready to step up to the plate and take responsibility for both property repair and teenage behavior guidance.

  • m February 11, 2008 (3:27 pm)

    I was bored to tears as a kid, but I didn’t go throwing rocks at passing cars. Parents need to step up to the plate.

  • acemotel February 11, 2008 (3:45 pm)

    Officer Chang is a hero. He treats kids with dignity and respect, and is known far and wide for being fair and honest. The key, I suppose, is empathy. JoB, great point about the skate park. It takes a village, and if the parents won’t or can’t step up to the plate, society certainly should. Seeing the way some people live their lives, it’s amazing that their kids have made it to adolescence alive. Some of these kids are handicapped as soon as they are born, given their families. The parents are not going to change, no matter how much we may wish it. It doesn’t help that our culture glorifies violence and aggressive behavior.

  • yo February 11, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    I once threw rocks at cars when I was kid. It actually was probably, potentially dangerous as we were on a hillside 30ft above the road.

    Of course, I was just following the lead of the older neighborhood kid. I was 6. He was 9.

    Thankfully, we must had bad aim because nothing seemed to happen to the cars (ie they didn’t stop etc.).

  • TheHouse February 11, 2008 (7:03 pm)

    Very nice. We had the same issue down here by Westwood Village several months ago, but dispatch always stated that it would be 20-30 minutes for officers to arrive and by then the kids were long gone. You Admiral folks got lucky, but I doubt they will be penalized hardly at all.

  • DALYDBL February 11, 2008 (7:07 pm)

    I really like the idea of community service hours and clean-up. Those do-do brained kids just need a dose of reality.

  • JumboJim February 11, 2008 (8:50 pm)

    Hey – give these kids some credit! They seem to have way better memories than our politicians. One of the kids remembered throwing rocks in 18 or so incidents – most of our politicians who get in trouble (are you reading this Alberto? Oh yeah, of course you are…) have trouble remembering *anything* they said, authorized or even signed within the last few years…

    Maybe we need to clone some of these kids’ memory cells and do transplants.

  • LyndaB February 11, 2008 (10:27 pm)

    it’s as if these kids don’t know what community is and what respect is. treat others as you would yourself. these lessons should be taught at home before they even walk out the door.

  • JunctionJana February 13, 2008 (7:35 am)

    I totally agree LyndaB. I would also say that lesson needs to be taught and reinforced in schools as well.

  • LA in the Junction February 16, 2008 (3:44 pm)

    It’s totally about a sense of entitlement which comes from uber-permissive parenting. There is no sense of responsibility, consequences, or respect for others (opinions, person, or property). I agree with lala — like I could even THINK of touching somebody else’s fence when I was that age, let alone throwing a rock!

    I have employed a string of early-to-mid 20 somethings in the last 5 years, and it’s not any better in the work world. There are great kids to be sure, but more than I would hope have no sense of work ethic or what they can contribute to the team. For them, it’s all about what they can get away with and trying to work the system at every angle. I had never fired someone before 2000, but I’ve had to let go a bunch of “but I’ve never had to actually work before” types since then.

    And before someone busts my chops for running a modern sweat shop, I don’t. And I work a LOT harder than I’ve ever asked any of my employees too, especially new ones. I’m talking about not even doing the minimum, because it’s too much effort and work is “boring”.

    I’ve digressed, but I agree that it all comes back to parenting, which has gone exceedingly downhill in the last two generations. Whoever said stop being your kid’s friend and start being a real parent is spot on. Your children’s neighbors and future employers will thank you.

Sorry, comment time is over.