Junction crime update, including latest on Steve Bushaw murder

(2/1/09 photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
An update on the unsolved murder of Steve Bushaw was part of what the Junction Neighborhood Organization heard during tonight’s lightly attended meeting – the many who have voiced concern about recent Junction crime, but didn’t attend the meeting, missed a chance for candid Q/A with the #2 boss from the Southwest Precinct, Lt. Steve Paulsen. One big question came from JuNO president Erica Karlovits: What if anything could he say about the Bushaw case, 5 1/2 weeks after the 26-year-old was shot and killed on Super Bowl night? Lt. Paulsen said, “This was not a random attack … homicide detectives have a lot of good leads and it’s progressing. Sometimes these take a lot of time, even if you know who a suspect is, to develop probable cause …” And he reiterated that there’s no evidence it was random: “Every indication is that these people knew each other.” The absence of stranger-on-stranger violence was a theme in his general discussion, and the Q/A, about Junction-area crime. Car prowls continue to be the top problem, but he said they were down in February – just under 90, compared to just under 130 in January, and the March rate is even lower so far, with just two reported to police in the past few weeks. He mentioned a couple of recent arrests may have played a part in getting the worst offenders off the street.

He also was asked about trouble with “night establishments” and drunk driving, especially given what happened last night:

(Monday evening photo by Mark Ammann)
Lt. Paulsen reiterated that DUI is suspected in last night’s crash, in which the 35-year-old driver of that pickup hit 13 other cars (mostly parked) along the east side of California SW in the heart of The Junction’s business district (previous WSB coverage here). It was also mentioned that a suspected drunk driver hit a pole on that same side of California just north of Oregon several hours later (911 logs confirm a motor-vehicle accident call at that location at 1:52 am today). More of tonight’s discussion about Junction crime, just ahead:

Noise complaints are more common in The Junction than most other kinds of calls to police, Lt. Paulsen said, and mentioned that the precinct’s supervising night sergeant, Sgt. Joel Sweetland, has worked to establish a relationship with area bars/restaurants.

He also corrected a misperception that The Junction has foot-patrol “beat cops” — the officers who patrol the sector do sometimes stop, get out of their cars, and go inside businesses to see how things are going, he acknowledged, but there’s no “foot patrol.”

The other myth Lt. Paulsen wanted to clear up: “Crime is NOT related to the economy. The people stealing out of your cars and houses are drug users, the same ones (that have always been around) – that’s how they barter for their drugs. It’s not the people that have lost their jobs and can’t feed their families – the people breaking in and causing grief are the same old drug users.”

That sparked a discussion about drug dealing in The Junction – with locations mentioned including the parking lot that is used on Sundays for the Farmers’ Market as well as the walkthrough by Puerto Vallarta, whose proprietor, Melrose said, has been known to go into it to clean up needles. According to Lt. Paulsen, they haven’t received many calls about that, so if someone sees it happening, he said, call 911.

Karlovits voiced concerns about crime in Junction residential neighborhoods, adding that “it’s hard to tell who’s suspicious and who’s not, because we have construction workers, residents, people who come to park and jump on the bus to go downtown.” Block Watches were discussed as well as added outdoor lighting.

Last but by no means least, Lt. Paulsen noted that strategizing is currently under way for summertime coverage, given current budget constraints. He says they’re trying to figure out how to do “emphasis patrols” without overtime as well as how to deal with summer’s “nighttime activities.” (Reminder, Lt. Paulsen and other precinct reps are usually in attendance at the monthly West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meetings, with the next one coming up next Tuesday at the SW Precinct, 7 pm).

ONE MORE NOTE – JUNCTION PARKING STUDY: We’ve been covering this one intensively, including the first “walking tour” weekend before last; tonight it was mentioned that the next tour – as reported here a few days ago – is coming up Wednesday 3/18 at 11 am, and Karlovits discussed hopes that better parking enforcement now might reveal that “meters aren’t needed” – turnover is just fine if people obey the rules. To that end, Lt. Paulsen mentioned that a third parking-enforcement officer soon will be based out of the precinct.

24 Replies to "Junction crime update, including latest on Steve Bushaw murder"

  • Stephanie March 10, 2009 (11:47 pm)

    The 13 cars that were side-swiped last night was not a drunk driver… The guy had a seizure.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (12:03 am)

    All we can do is attribute to police what they are saying about the investigation, and they are not saying that any more. I spoke today with both the media unit and with Lt. Paulsen at tonight’s event, and both said that’s how it’s being investigated. I asked them specifically, what about the possibility mentioned at the scene Monday night that a medical problem was involved, and they said that’s no longer where the investigation was focused – TR

  • Candrewb March 11, 2009 (6:20 am)

    If someone was that plowed at 6:30, that could hardly be blamed on the influx of trendy, night establishments. I would venture to guess the state liquor stores had a hand in that if you have to blame an establishment…

  • SHOCKING March 11, 2009 (7:33 am)

    “Every indication is that these people knew each other.” – Really? The first many times I saw this story it was pushed as if some poor random guy was crossing the street and just gunned down by random ‘ethnic’ people. See how scary and dangerous the world is now!? Of course that was BS. Like 99.9% of shootings (except for the ‘rampage-suicide’) the shooter and the victim knew each other, just like the shooting at Chop Suey. It wasn’t a scary random crime…it was something personal…so personal as to involve a shooting. So you as the random citizen are NOT likely to get gunned down just walking across the street…unless you were involved in a bad drug deal, failed relationship or similar with the shooter.

  • JimmyG March 11, 2009 (8:17 am)

    I’ve never seen the story “pushed” as a random homicide. All you had to do was read between the lines of what the police weren’t saying or doing.
    They didn’t issue a sketch or give more descriptions of the shooter out since more than likely they’re developing a case against a person that they already have a good idea of who it is.

    The victim had obviously made some enemies along the way and he paid a price for that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s okay that they went and killed him for it, it’s just the initial hysteria about all of the shootings in WS is just that: hysteria.
    Unless you’re gang banging, dealing drugs, involved with a violent partner, or engaging in other illegal behaviors the chances of you being the victim of a stranger homicide are very very low.

  • Spiker March 11, 2009 (8:23 am)

    Our car got “prowled” last night (Tuesday).
    41st and Findley. Nothing missing, but they broke glove box between seat.
    Sure would like to tie one of these prowlers to a telephone pole (naked) on one of these 20 degree nights.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (8:55 am)

    I can’t comment on the other aspects of what JG says but having been part of the coverage from the start – and you will see this if you go back and look at our stories – yes, it’s true that this was never described as random. This just happens to be the clearest publicly uttered verbiage so far saying it was not – TR

  • deckard March 11, 2009 (9:27 am)

    First of all, thank you WSB for keeping this story alive. We as a community need to stay informed about the issues and address this increase in crime before it gets out of hand.
    Hysteria is good, if its’ panic drives good people into action. Yes I feel panic. Panic that drug dealing and gang banging and other crimes are threatening our little corner of the city. I don’t think it is right to bury our head in the sand of complaisancy and just say that “it’s just those gang bangers at it again”, “boys will be boys”, we’re safe enough for now, have another piece of pizza.
    No, it’s not important who is involved, or whether they deserved it or not. It doesn’t matter if they are white, black, purple, yellow, or green. What matters is that they are bringing crime into our front yard. And we as a community need to do something about it.

  • Kristina March 11, 2009 (9:50 am)

    My heart aches for the victim (and all victims) but I do confess to a sigh of relief to think that it likely wasn’t random. The world is so crazy….and how many times have my six year old and I walked by the location of that shooting? It is unbearable to think of this happening to anyone, but if it had been a child….my child….

  • Bob Loblaw March 11, 2009 (11:39 am)

    random or not it still seems like WS is growing more violent by the day. Maybe it’s just that we have a more active daily news source now, so we are more informed. But maybe not.
    TR: Do you have data on local crime rates? Is it city-wide? Is it true that things are getting worse in WS? or are we just more aware since you are on the streets 24/7?
    Hate to say it, but I’ve actually been talked out of moving from WS by Mrs. Loblaw recently. Between the empty car lots and shootings I’m starting to really dislike this place.

  • DontGetIt March 11, 2009 (11:40 am)

    I don’t get why it matters if this shooting was random or not. It happened in a very public place at a time where still plenty of people were around.
    In fact, I watched the Super Bowl at Talarico’s sitting on a chair on the side of their bar that was pretty much in the line of the bullets fired 3 hours later. If the killer just flinches a little bit and some bullets make their way into Talarico’s then there is great chance that someone else not involved at all in this potential dispute might die. The family of that person certainly wouldn’t give a darn if this shooting was random or not.
    Shootings in public spaces are not acceptable. Period.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (11:44 am)

    BL – the crime data is on the SPD website. Lt. Paulsen and others have repeatedly stated publicly that it’s down, as it is citywide. That’s not to say every category is down. This does indeed call for a closer look.
    DG – no crime is acceptable whether random or not, whether big or small, and I hope no one is implying that it is. I understand when people admit they feel some relief to know that “random” killers are not out there BUT you make an extremely important point. Random or not, it is astounding that no one else was hurt here, and even the “non-random” killers showed a terrifying disregard not only obviously for the life of their victim but also for everyone around. Police are certainly not slacking off on this because it’s “not random,” but that was the specific question that in fact originated from a meeting attendee last night: whether Lt. Paulsen could say the latest on whether it was a random crime, any progress being made, etc. – TR

  • GenHillOne March 11, 2009 (12:02 pm)

    DG – I get Kristina’s sentiment. I have tried to word my comments appropriately because you’re right, it’s horrible regardless and none of it justified. I think the randomness,or lack of it, does take one variable away though. Yes, still senseless death. Yes, still absolutely could have hurt others. Is that one variable enough to counteract the other two? No, but I don’t think a person (myself included) who feels a little relief over the fact that no one randomly drove down California shooting at pedestrians is trying to be disrespectful or make light of what happened. I’m glad to hear the investigation is active and hope they catch – and prosecute – those responsible soon.

  • deckard March 11, 2009 (12:34 pm)

    Okay, so we are all in agreement that this shouldn’t be happening. I am saying that it will die if the community doesn’t step up and act.
    Here are a few ideas, I’m sure yours are better.
    1. Publish all information that the police have so that everybody knows what we are looking for. As an example; it seems to me that on Superbowl Sunday, there would have been someone somewhere that saw the car and could describe it better then just that it was “white”. Maybe even knows where it is now. I want to know what these guys look like.
    2.We need a dedicated “Tip Line” so people could offer tips on any crime we see in West Seattle. WSB could offer a “Crime Tip Tab” on this site, so everyone could be informed on up to the minute happenings.
    3.Shut down the main intersection and set up a podium for the Mayor and Police chief to come and announce that West Seattle is one big “Block Watch”. Get family members to share about their losses in this crime and others. Bring on the media.

    It is going to get worse if we don’t do something about it. Let’s not make West Seattle an easy target.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (12:56 pm)

    Hi, Deckard. We do have the crime watch tab where all stories are linked. As for crime tips, they can’t come through us. The police department has ways to anonymously tip as well as to tip on the record – including the anonymous text tip. I will add that information more prominently on the Crime Watch page.
    But as for bringing out the mayor and police chief (who is on his way to another job, we’ll find out the interim chief Monday, according to what the mayor said this morning):
    Here’s something important for starters.
    For a community of people allegedly concerned about crime, there is a PATHETIC turnout for all the meetings that are already scheduled – where local police leadership is there and ready to answer your questions. Three citizens at this meeting last night. No businesspeople aside from Susan of WSJA. Yes, I *know* everyone is busy. But so busy that you can’t spare an hour and a half a month? Then there’s the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council. Lt. Paulsen is invariably there along with the community police team. They answer questions and provide updates. We cover these meetings and report on them here but that’s not a substitute for getting there and asking your questions, voicing your concerns, standing up and saying OK, why no arrest yet? There’s never going to be a big mayoral show and tell on crime here until you get one of the COMMUNITY meetings jampacked with concerned people. Next Tuesday, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct. We publicize these meetings repeatedly and endlessly. For starters, be there. Speak up. Represent. If you can’t be there, find a neighbor to represent your block. Something. Someone. For a community of 60,000 people, even getting a HUNDRED people there would be an incredible show of concern, unprecedented in the year and a half-plus that I’ve been closely covering those meetings – TR

  • Angela March 11, 2009 (1:10 pm)

    Well said WSB :) I understand the venting online, but if you really want to see action, then you have to stand up and make that action happen.

    As far as publishing tips, i think that’s a terrible idea. Many people read this blog; if you were to publish every tip or rumor about possible suspects, i have a feeling many people would be accused of crimes they did not commit. Not to mention people may try to take matters into their own hands and retaliate on a suspect. Publishing all information would make it very easy for the suspect to run as well.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (1:34 pm)

    Just to be clear, accusing people not arrested or charged of criminal or similar activity is not something that we allow on this site, even in reader comments or forum posts.
    But even re: being a conduit for tips, that’s not workable either for a variety of reasons – however, as I promised, I will get extra info onto the Crime Watch page shortly regarding how to report crimes, including anonymously. The “anonymous texting” instructions were published here in a very helpful recent comment, too. Thanks to everyone for ideas, concerns, and participation, online and off – TR

  • bridge to somewhere March 11, 2009 (2:50 pm)

    i think it’s somewhat out-of-line to criticize citizens for not attending these meetings, almost as if that’s part of the problem. perhaps it is, but if so, it’s maybe 1% of it. do we really think that the number of shootings and car prowls has a direct relationship to the number of people attending a communitee crime meeting?

    in full disclosure, i actually HAVE been to a few of those meetings. and i GREATLY respect the police and citizens for showing up to them. my point is that i reject the notion that to be concerned about crime one needs to attend one of those meetings. that feels a bit like blaming the victim in my book. and i completely reject the notion that even if well attended these meetings will significantly curtail crime.

  • WSB March 11, 2009 (3:11 pm)

    I didn’t say going to the meetings will curtail crime – but if you are concerned about it and want answers and want to show concern, that’s the first place to do it.
    The previous poster suggested getting the mayor and police chief here for some kind of big event and my point is that we have numerous events already happening with poor attendance, so if the thought is that we should have a big event, I’m saying, attend the ones that are ALREADY happening first.
    We don’t go on many soapboxes here – we leave that to commenters and Forum members – but I do advocate attending meetings. Not for just the sake of going to a meeting, but because IF you are concerned – and you have the right not to be, as well – THAT is where to start making something happening, getting your voice heard, asking your questions directly to those who have the answers and have the power to make something happen. And it’s where to find out what’s happening.
    That doesn’t just apply to crime, but applies to myriad issues. There are alternate ways of speaking out and we provide that information as often as we can – e-mail links, postal-mail addresses, etc.
    Because we cover all these meetings, we are in the unique position of knowing who attends, what opportunities are there, what can be accomplished by being there, and that’s knowledge we want to share in addition to reporting the facts of what happens and what’s said at such meetings – TR

  • GalPal March 12, 2009 (6:53 am)

    I support the police and their community policing efforts, but I’m not sure I agree with Lt. Paulson on the “economy doesn’t affect crime” statement. What about all the gas theft that happened when it was $4 a gallon? Those certainly were crimes prompted by economic conditions. And with all the layoffs here and nationwide it seems intuitive that more crimes of opportunity are happening. I’m not saying addicts aren’t a major contributor — they are, probably the biggest one. It’s just that I think this recession (depression?) has more people more desperate than anybody realizes, which can lead to crimes too.

  • homesweethome March 12, 2009 (6:59 am)

    Bridge and others – yes it is about showing up and not just at meetings. Its about joining block watch and sticking with your neighbors – or more importantly knowing them. Seattle is full of complainers – complaining about a situation doesn’t change it it only adds to the hysteria and malcontent of the neighborhood. Attending meetings is one, yet passive way of becoming proactive but at least it is something. If people want a voice they need to show up.

  • M March 12, 2009 (7:37 am)

    “He says they’re trying to figure out how to do “emphasis patrols” without overtime ”

    That’s an easy one. Cancel the shutting down of Alki Ave this summer. That should free up alot of “overtime”; I couldn’t believe all the police standing around last year. I mean police on horses and Segways? C’mon don’t they have something better to do?

  • bridge to somewhere March 12, 2009 (9:22 am)

    @homesweethome: one might argue talking about crime on WSB is a form of “showing up,” no? and, frankly, i get way more out of learning about crime on WSB than i tend to at community meetings. first of all, the reports on WSB are contextualized with place and time. second of all, everyone gets the opportunity to speak here (not just those folks who tend to dominate community meetings with their own idiosyncratic issues). thirdly, we are connected with resources and tips to reduce crime on WSB.
    @TR: we’re good; my point is that i don’t see any one place as being the ideal place to voice concern or the one way to show you care about crime. and i am sure you don’t either, so no worries. :-) keep up the good work.

  • deckard March 12, 2009 (5:08 pm)

    I hear ya. I work out of town 3 weeks at a time, thus my concern for the crime rate, and my excuse for not being at the meeting. I plan on going next Tuesday.
    I was wondering how many people even know what is happening in their neighborhood. Could be only 10 people following this story. This may be why there is a low turn out at meetings. I follow WSB everyday, but my wife and neighbors don’t, even though the bodyshop theft of the honda happened only two blocks from our house. If it’s not a 30 second sound bite on King 5 snooze, then it must not be that important. Anyway, the point is to raise awareness. Flyers, adds, speaches, meetings, not sure of the best way.
    I was thinking about organizing a “Fun Run” to get the issue out to as many people as poss. Get the business involved as sponsers. They have a lot at stake. The YMCA might be interested and local churches. We could start it in the morning before the HI-YU parade at the Alki statue and end at the Alaska and Califonia junction. It could be called “THE WSB BLOG WATCH”, “Running crime out of West Seattle”, something like that. It would be great exposure for WSB and maybe through awareness of the problem, cause people to take action.
    What do you think?

Sorry, comment time is over.