West Seattle, Washington
From WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli: A car fire south of The Junction is getting some extra attention from investigators tonight. Just before 7 pm, firefighters were called out to the 5200 block of California (map). They quickly put out the fire, which was apparently confined to the passenger compartment of a late model Lincoln Town Car. Fire investigators arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and taped off the parking lot. The front passenger window of the car was shattered and there appeared to be a red plastic gas can on the front seat of the car. Investigators seemed to be studying the contents of the car, including some loose papers and a set of blue latex gloves. There were no injuries reported and no apparent damage to the adjacent buildings. We will keep following up to see what investigators determine about the fire’s cause.
Several West Seattle Crime Watch reports in this roundup tonight. In the first, we have a few more details from police on something we mentioned via Twitter late last night – a report of shots fired near 21st/Barton (map). A nearby resident e-mailed today to say they’d heard about half a dozen shots. We checked with Southwest Precinct Lt. Norm James, who says a woman told police she was stopped in a vehicle at that intersection when someone got out of another car and fired several rounds at hers. She took off and called police; Lt. James says, “They found several bullet holes in her vehicle and recovered 2 casings at 21st and Barton.” No injuries. Meantime, we have three other miscellaneous crime reports – including another car-on-blocks, nowhere near yesterday’s two reports – read on:Read More
KING5.com reports that the gun ban in certain Seattle Parks facilities has been overturned by a local judge. The case in which the ruling was made is NOT the one filed by the Kent man who invited media to come see him walk into Southwest Community Center with a concealed weapon last November (here’s our coverage), but that man – Bob Warden – has sent out a news release pointing out this afternoon’s ruling. We asked the City Attorney’s Office for its reaction; spokesperson Kathy Mulady has just sent this short statement – “”We will comply with the court order and we are weighing with our clients the options for an appeal.” (By “clients,” she says, they mean the mayor and City Council.) The park gun ban was ordered by former Mayor Greg Nickels last October; one of the first signs seen around the city was the one in the photo at left, shared with us by Hillary and shown here 10/21/09. 7:43 PM UPDATE: We’ve been away from the desk for a little while, and more reaction’s come in, in the meantime. From Mayor Mike McGinn:
“I am disappointed in today’s ruling. Cities should have the right to restrict guns in playgrounds, pools and community centers where children are present. The court’s ruling was based on a state law, RCW 9.41.290, which preempts Seattle from regulating the possession of firearms. It’s time for the state Legislature to change that law.”
8:12 PM: We also have a copy of the judge’s order, courtesy of the City Attorney’s Office. You can see the three-page order here. We are reminded, looking at the plaintiffs’ names, that two of them – Winnie Chan and Ray Carter – were described last fall as West Seattle residents.
Since we broke the story here on WSB this morning, there’s been regional and national attention for the shooting deaths of at least five sea lions that washed up here in West Seattle. Newest development – this just in from the Humane Society of the United States:
The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of five sea lions.
* Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS, said about the case: “The individual or individuals responsible for this callous poaching have an appalling disregard for both sea lions and the laws that exist to protect these iconic animals. The Humane Society of the United States applauds the National Marine Fisheries Service for investigating this case.”
* Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the National Marine Fisheries Service at 1-800-853-1964.
The Humane Society also points out that since the sea lions are federally protected, a convicted poacher could face a fine up to $50,000. 5:20 PM UPDATE: Robin Lindsey with Seal Sitters has updated their site with the results of a necropsy on a harbor seal found dead – THAT one was natural causes.
This note came in from Sara Corn at Safeway’s local corporate HQ, after she read a discussion in comments following our full report on last night’s 5th and final Southwest Design Review Board meeting for the Admiral Safeway redevelopment. It seemed worth showcasing beyond just popping it into that comment thread.
Each of the [current Admiral Safeway] employees will be offered the opportunity to work in a different Safeway store in the Seattle Metro District during the time of construction. We understand this could be inconvenient for some, but years of planning could not yield a design that would allow the existing store to stay open during construction. It is one of the many reasons that we wanted to shorten the construction timeline to as short as possible. In addition, it is worth noting that the new store will employ 65-100 more employees than the current store employs, and the existing employees will have more hours available to them to work.
Just before 11 this morning, we sent this out in our “Announcements” stream as well as Facebook and Twitter, right after SPDBlotter announced it. But in case you hadn’t seen it any of those ways, we want to be sure you see it here on the home page, too: CrossFit West Seattle (42nd/Admiral) will be hosting a Hero Memorial Workout” on Sunday, in honor of SPD Officer Tim Brenton, the West Seattle High School graduate murdered in the line of duty last Halloween night. CFWS’s Eric Renn says this is “a CrossFit tradition when one of our members or their family members dies in the line of duty). … Unfortunately, the officer that died (Tim Brenton) was the brother of two of our dedicated gym members. We have created a workout that will be held in his honor which was requested by his family.” It’s a fundraiser for the Behind the Badge Foundation, according to SPDBlotter, $20/person if you want to join the workout (and that’ll get you a memorial T-shirt as well), spectators/well-wishers are welcome too! 3 pm Sunday, CrossFit West Seattle.
(1:55 pm summary: Rodney James has been sentenced to the 30 months in prison that prosecutors recommended.)
(WSB photo added 2:02 pm – Rodney James foreground left, the Wong family – from left, Jason, Wah, Salina, Jimmy – background right)
We are in King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector‘s courtroom downtown, along with Jade West Cafe proprietor Wah Wong and his son Jason Wong (plus many relatives and supporters), for the sentencing of Rodney James, the drunk driver who pleaded guilty to vehicular assault in the crash that badly hurt the Wongs two months ago. (The restaurant north of Morgan Junction has been closed ever since, its future still up in the air.) Also here: Three TV crews and a photographer from the Seattle Times (WSB partner) – close to 50 people in all in the courtroom. We are told some family members will address the judge; we’ll publish developments as they happen, with a longer story (including video and photos) later.
1:10 PM: The hearing has begun. The recommended 2 1/2 years is described as an “exceptional sentence.”
(WSB photo added 2:05 pm – Jimmy Wong at left, James’ lawyer at right)
1:16 PM: Jimmy Wong, the eldest son from California, is about to speak, after senior deputy prosecutor Amy Freedheim finished explaining how heinous the case is. “No amount of apology that he says will undo any of the damage that has been done. Mr. James’ actions have ruined my family’s fortune, source of income, my father’s passion, having his own restaurant for 20 years, serving the West Seattle community, that passion’s been taken away from him.” And he is speaking emotionally of his brother, who lost a leg. “The only thing I have left are memories of my brother … dancing at my wedding.” Then, he speaks of the customers of Jade West, who considered it home: “They don’t have a home any more.”
1:22 PM: Salina Wong, Wah’s wife and Jason’s mother, is speaking now. She too is crying. And then, she is angry, and tells James not to repeat the mistake. (added 5:15 pm – video of her testimony)
1:26 PM: Jason Wong, in a wheelchair, is speaking now. “One day I will get over this – but my family won’t. My parents have worked so hard, to see everything crumble in one day.”
1:30 PM: The lawyer for Rodney James is speaking and says he chose to accept “complete responsibility” and “wishes that day had never happened.” She spoke for about four minutes; James is speaking now, saying “I am devastated by this loss and it has affected me a great deal … if I could do this all over again, I would not have gotten in my car on that night.”
1:35 PM: Now the judge is speaking. “But for the heroic act of Jason, his father might not be here today.” She says the court has received 113 letters of support for the Wongs and Jade West. “More letters than I have ever seen, combined, in my 11th year on the bench.” She says the letters express outrage, disbelief, disappointment in the legal system. She calls James’s behavior “outrageous.” She says that James has agreed to factors that make it possible for her to sentence him to more than the standard range of 13 to 17 months. “Some of the letters have asked me to sentence you to the maximum the law permits … that would be 10 years. Some asked for more … even life. The law simply does not allow for that.” (added 2:37 – part of that statement, on video – sorry about all the typing noise)
She says she is aware that the Wong family are “incredible members of our community … Jason had agreed with a degree in aeronautical engineering and was in the process of obtaining a masters in that field … when your car (James’s car) landed in their driveway.” She says that on Wah Wong’s behalf, a former owner of the Jade West even wrote a letter, and “took great pride in seeing how it had grown in reputation throughout the West Seattle community.” She says the letters have been “overwhelming.” And, “No amount of time” will bring back the way the Wongs were .. the way the Jade West was. “Our entire community grieves for your losses, currently and prospectively,” the judge says. She also says she got letters from James’s parents expressing “deep remorse over their son’s actions.” She says toxicology reports now show James’ blood-alcohol level was .19 – higher than the originally reported .16. “The court will sentence you to the original 30 months agreed to,” she says. He also will serve 18 months probation afterward, and a $1,700-plus financial obligation even before a restitution hearing to determine what else he will be ordered to pay. If he gets a driver license in the future, he will have to have a device that will keep his car from starting unless he has less than .02 blood alcohol. She told him a few minutes earlier that he should never drive a car again, and that “if we were in Europe” he would lose his license for life.
1:56 PM: The hearing is concluded. We will see if the Wongs plan to speak to reporters outside the courtroom; we spoke with Jimmy Wong before the hearing, and he wasn’t sure if they would want to.
(UPDATED EARLY SATURDAY) Another weekend, another big Sunday – this time, instead of the game of football, it’s the game of love. We’ve been featuring the West Seattle Valentine’s Day dining guide – see the latest updates here – highlights from the WSB sponsor ranks include brunch (mimosa carafe!) and dinner special features at Skylark Cafe and Club and a steak/shrimp special at Feedback Lounge. Also – self-defense and yoga freebies, a free movie, an art show to help Haiti, Fauntleroy’s “The Man Show” tonight, Lafayette Elementary’s theater production tonight, Twilight/New Moon double features today and tomorrow at The Admiral … From tonight through Sunday night, more than 40 events/activities, brought to you by Skylark Cafe and Club, where you’ll find FREE live music and rockin’ food:Read More
This Sunday, February 14th, from 3:00 – 4:00 PM at the West Seattle CrossFit located at 4200 Admiral Way Southwest there will be a fundraiser for the Behind the Badge Foundation. There will be a Memorial Workout honoring Officer Tim Brenton. Don’t want to work out? Just stop by and say hello! This event is open to the public. A $20 donation will get you in the door and a Memorial t-shirt. For additional information, contact Greg Tomlinson at (206) 409-3166.
Officer Brenton, you’ll recall, was a West Seattle High School graduate; he is the SPD officer murdered more than three months ago in Leschi.
Followup on the story we published yesterday about sea lions found dead on West Seattle shores (also updated late last night on the Seal Sitters’ site): We just talked with Brian Gorman at the National Marine Fisheries Service. He says that preliminary necropsy results show that at least five dead sea lions found in the past week in this area had been shot. (Inset photo, courtesy of Will, is from an on-beach necropsy south of Alki Point yesterday.) One, Gorman says, was a federally protected Steller sea lion – a species not commonly seen in Puget Sound. (Seal Sitters wrote about that sea lion’s death [scroll down].) “This is unusual,” he says. “We’ve turned over the evidence to our enforcement folks … We’ll certainly be tracking this.” he says. Investigators have no idea yet where these animals were shot, by whom, and why (no specifics yet on the type of gun/s that were used, either). There’s a chance there are more; Gorman says they’ve received reports of “floating carcasses,” though they might have been multiple sightings of the ones that already have washed up.
Regarding whether these shootings would be treated as a crime, he explains, “There are instances where you could shoot a sea lion if it were threatening your life, and there are a few tribes that have permits to shoot sea lions [in fishing circumstances] … Certainly not Stellers.” NMFS usually gets one or two reports of sea-lion shootings each year, he says, but “it is certainly very unusual for us to get this many.” Quoting the Seal Sitters website: “If a marine mammal is being harassed or harmed, call NOAA Enforcement Hotline, 800-853-1964. If there is imminent danger, call 911.”
A few more notes from high-school basketball last night: Chief Sealth High School‘s boys’ varsity team solidified its 2nd-place ranking in the Metro Conference by beating Bainbridge last night, 72-56 (stats here). In girls’ varsity, Bainbridge defeated Sealth, 57-35 (stats here). Meantime, there’s more to report from WSHS’s games besides the melee we mentioned last night – ceremonies honoring senior players, and game highlights – read on:Read More
As mentioned on Wednesday – this is an unpaid-furlough day for some city Parks workers, and that means some facilities are closed, including community centers (except for child-care and late-night programs) and Southwest Pool. Here’s the full list. And everything’s closed next Monday for Presidents Day.
Story and photo by Jonathan Stumpf
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
If you live in Westwood and have an idea of how to improve the neighborhood, now’s your chance.
The hot-button topic at Thursday night’s Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting wasn’t the choice of artist or location for an upcoming grant-funded mural, or whether county leadership might reopen the conversation about the West Seattle RapidRide route.
There was minimal discussion around those subjects, as well as the P-Patch that is going in at 34th and Barton at the old Seattle Public Utilities site, or about the letter of intent filed for a Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund grant to improve the Longfellow Creek trail near SW Thistle. The majority of the meeting discussion swirled around the very existence of the group – its shortage of membership, volunteers and general interest, and what can be done to change that.