West Seattle Crime Watch: Vandals blow up duck display

The famous rubber-duck display by Lowman Beach Park has been targeted by vandals and thieves before, but what its creator and owner, Dr. Ron Sterling, caught in that surveillance video goes beyond what he’s documented recently: The video from late last night shows people walking up and igniting something – then captures the resulting explosion. Sterling posted about it shortly afterward in the WSB Forums:

There is a $500 reward for solid information about and apprehension and charging of the perpetrator(s). The reward will be paid at the time that a detective thinks he/she has the perp in hand, so to speak.

$500. It’s enough to make you, whoever you are, think twice about your loyalties. Might even be more if this is an outcome for felony arson and the perp does some hard time…

The explosion was loud enough that some (according to two notes we have so far this morning) thought it was a gunshot in the park. Call police if you recognize anyone in the video – 206-625-5011 is the non-emergency number. ADDED 9:36 AM: We went to Lowman for a look at the damage once it was fully light. It’s not a big charred mess, and some of the ducks survived, but if you look closely you’ll see the many damaged spots, including burned trimmings, and this big crack in the pool, with the signs telling the story:

94 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Vandals blow up duck display"

  • Jeff September 16, 2010 (7:15 am)

    Punks. He puts so much time and effort into that display.

  • Greg September 16, 2010 (7:22 am)

    What the h*ll is wrong with people?!??! That display is awesome! What do these people get out of destroying something like this. Jerks like this ruin all the fun for the rest of us. Hang ’em! I s’pose this is probably the reaction these losers were hoping for.

  • Carson September 16, 2010 (7:23 am)

    Wow. I love a good prank but that’s just pure vandalism. We need to pitch in and get you a better camera and help rebuild it!

  • ned flanders September 16, 2010 (7:27 am)

    thats just down right not cool.

  • bertha September 16, 2010 (7:27 am)

    I am so angry right now I can’t express it in family-friendly terms! So sorry Ron. I cannot understand why these jerks feel a need to destroy something so many people enjoy and look forward to seeing. My daughter is going to be so sad. Here’s hoping they will be caught, prosecuted and throttled soon.

  • EmmyJane September 16, 2010 (7:32 am)

    Wow Ron, I’m so sorry to see you’re going through this again. I hope you know there are so many of us in the community that appreciate what you do. Keep your head up and good luck finding these jerks.

  • rw September 16, 2010 (7:37 am)

    Idiotic. What’s the point, you weasel morons? People (my wife and I included) look forward to that display and its periodic variations whenever we visit Lincoln Park. I wish I had some rubber ducks to donate to Dr. Sterling, because I hope he knows how much joy his efforts create. Thanks Doc, and best wishes for making your community a better place.

  • Karlynn September 16, 2010 (7:38 am)

    This is so sad!! My daughter so looks forward to the ducks everytime we go for a walk. It always made me so happy that someone put so much time & thought into something for others to enjoy. I really hope they catch the jerks that did this & that they get what they deserve. Ron, if you need help rebuilding, let me know. We’d be more than happy to contribute.

  • Yardvark September 16, 2010 (7:39 am)

    That’s either a class A or class B felony:

    They could’ve burnt down a lot more than the ducks, so hopefully they’ll both end up with a jail sentence.

    Morons. Complete morons.

  • velo_nut September 16, 2010 (7:40 am)

    We could all pool some money for a larger reward….

  • treefairies September 16, 2010 (7:52 am)

    This just makes me so sad. We really enjoy seeing the rubber duckies every time we are at the park. I don’t like to call people names, but these guys are just pure born idiots. I’m so sorry Ron and to the community as well, because these people are hurting all of us.

  • Alki Resident September 16, 2010 (7:56 am)

    If there was a $5000 reward zI wouldnt take it.Its the principal that speaks volumes about getting these people behind bars asap before they do serious damage or death.

  • cathyw September 16, 2010 (8:11 am)

    It looks to me as if there were at least three of them. Unless I am mistaken, the third one was in the background holding something up to her face. It almost looks like she was taking pictures with a camera, but it is hard to tell.

  • rudy September 16, 2010 (8:18 am)

    I’m so sorry this happened. This makes me sad and I too hope that these people are caught and prosecuted. I also hope you will have the energy and resolve to create something new from the ashes. I have a few duckies floating around here that we’d be happy to contribute for a replacement display. Can I leave them at the sight or should I get them somewhere more secure until you are ready to create another masterpiece? Maybe for the next display we can as a community create a memorial along the likes of that for princess Diana…..

  • Bonnie September 16, 2010 (8:20 am)

    That’s awful! I enjoyed looking at his displays. Punks.

  • Silly Goose September 16, 2010 (8:42 am)

    I am sorry this happened it was such a creative and fun display for all young and old. I am having a hard time really seein the faces as it is so small. What I could see of the clothing makes me think it is some of the homeless that live in Lincoln park. I hope they can find out who did this. Do you know that it is posted on You Tube?

  • stusmalley September 16, 2010 (8:46 am)

    Now a lot of folks aren’t going to like this, but this day in age, with the idiot loser count skyrocketing, don’t make yourself a target. The problem is that the duck displays are a little well, overwhelming and that is fine if the neighbors can handle it. Dumb kids are going to be just that, dumb, and in this case dangerous. The display has become a target for losers sadly, but that’s life. The home has cameras, but I must say they positioning garnered little information. Upgraded cameras, lighting, camera positioning and an audio feed would help deter future episodes. If you are going to be a target, have the appropriate technology to help keep the peace and catch these idiots.

  • celeste17 September 16, 2010 (8:55 am)

    Hi Ron,
    I am sorry these thugs did this to out precious Duckie Reserve display. The “duckies” have always brought a smile to everyones faces when they see the display. Please let us know if we can help rebuild, clean up or just offer support! Will there be a ceremony for the dearly departed duckies? Where should we make a donation in memory of the duckies who perished? :( trying to inject a little bit of a smile into a sad situation.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (9:26 am)

    Hi All: Kind of slow waking up this morning… got an arson hangover.
    Thank you all for your condolences and for offers to replace duckies. The main ducky destroyed was Bongo Ducky, who was a creation that took about 10 hours to make. There are no Bongo Ducky replacements. I will have to create him again from the parts I can get (which are still available). Two butterfly duckies perished, but they are replaceable… they were also custom made and not available to purchase as is.
    Otherwise, Ducky Dave seems to have survived intact. He sings “splish splash” — I haven’t been out to look everything over this morning yet. Too upset.

    The stage was burned, the water park itself was blown to pieces. The water park parts are still available, but, it will cost me a bunch to get them again and construct it all.
    All together, it will cost about 30 hours of work and $300 in materials to recreate it for next year’s Ducky Water Park.
    Of course, it will be back. Nothing keeps a ducky down, I mean nothing. However, the vigilante ducks are getting restless… if you get my drift.
    I could go on and on about what has been happening repeatedly in this neighborhood for the last two years. Lowman Park is routinely abused in so many ways and so are the neighbors here. It is a small population of abusers, but there is a lot of traffic, so per capita small, but overall, large.
    Kinlow and his folks at SW precinct… I have said my piece before, but this just adds to that piece. We have a block captain who is getting no response from them… I say, “good luck.”
    This was an arson. I plan on getting the 911 tape of my call in. They offered nothing but “do we need to call a fire truck?” No, I am putting out the fire right now. But you could send some police.
    Here’s what they sent. One car, 10-15 minutes down the road. Not sure, when, for sure, coz I was chasing the punks into Lincoln Park. I will review the video and see what their actual response time was.
    An arson, for god’s sake. How about a helicopter over Lincoln Park. I told 911 they went into the north end of Lincoln Park… duh. How about a few more police cars in the Lincoln Park area?
    You get my drift. So far, no call from any detective.
    Take care out there. You are on your own…

    • WSB September 16, 2010 (9:32 am)

      We went by about 8 am for a few photos which I am just pulling off the camera now and will add shortly – TR

  • Jeff September 16, 2010 (9:26 am)

    Maybe some jail time is appropriate, but the real problem is that these are thoughtless, selfish thugs who have absolutely no respect for anyone else in their community.

    What they really need is an education in the real world. I’d say hundreds of hours of real community service, like working with cancer patients, the elderly, homeless etc would at least that might open these idiots eyes a little.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (9:38 am)

    Police response time. The explosion took place at 11:12, I spent a few minutes putting the fire out, I called 911 at 11:16, police arrived 11:33. I came back from my Lincoln Park adventure at 11:39. They were still there and had knocked at my door and had 911 op call me as I was walking back to the house.

  • HolyKow September 16, 2010 (10:03 am)

    I just don’t get it. It is so far beyond me to:

    1) Vandalize another person’s property

    2) Destroy something that OBVIOUSLY took a great deal of time and effort

    3) Taking away from a general community instead of trying to make it a better place.

    We would all be better off if these 3 or 4 people in that video were no longer in our town. Ever.

    We need:

    Rambo Duck
    Charles Bronson Duck
    The Duck-inator! (I’ll be Quack!)

    They will defend Duck Nation!


  • Jen September 16, 2010 (10:03 am)

    One of the comments above (SillyGoose) noted that video of this was posted on YouTube. Maybe the perpetrators posted it? If so, this may be helpful in tracking them down.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (10:09 am)

    I could get you some better pictures of the fire damage… geez. Are you minimizing this? Had I not been basically walking out the front door when these thugs showed up, the fire would have been extensive. I was able to douse it within 30 seconds of the explosion. It was burning pretty good.

  • CMeagh September 16, 2010 (10:09 am)

    I always smile when I walk past the display. I think it made a lot of people smile and feel good. It is sad that someone would destroy something that this.
    Hopefully they will find out who did this.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (10:10 am)

    Thanks HolyKow… my thoughts precisely!

  • HolyKow September 16, 2010 (10:10 am)

    I think it was the owner….if you look at the Tombstone he has laminated on the display, there is a youtube link posted on it.


    (sorry…could not help myself…)


  • Dana September 16, 2010 (10:21 am)

    I think lighting a firework to destroy someones property is very lame. It is sad that people are jerks. It is tragic people find it entertaining to destroy what someone else values….

    But, I don’t think we should expect a police helicopter to search for them. And I don’t think this crime is worth jail time. I really hope they are just dumb kids that need to grow up, do some community service… Pay to rebuild what they destroyed. But that is just my opinion….

    Sorry this happened…

  • Tony S September 16, 2010 (10:41 am)

    Thanks for injecting some sanity into this situation, Dana.

    I’m not proposing these jerks be let off the hook scot-free, but come on: a helicopter search? A detective “assigned to the case”? I’d much rather have the police running down the crack house down the block, the sexual predator that lives in the next neighborhood over or the true arsonist that is lighting the attached garage on fire…

  • HolyKow September 16, 2010 (10:46 am)

    You are wrong Dana. This person attempted to burn down his house. That is arson. They set off explosives on his house! How is that not worth jail time.

    If you are shooting bottle rockets and one lands on a neighbors front porch and catches it on fire and you respond correctly and take responsibility, that is an accident and you could see that not being Arson.

    These punks, by choice, came up, lit explosives on his HOUSE, BLEW PART OF IT UP, SET IT ON FIRE(!!) that, if not for his fortuitous timing, could have done some real damage and caused him to loose property, time and possible injury if karma shook out differently…

    Yes there should be helicopters, this is Arson (felony) and criminal mischief. They could have seriously hurt someone. They need to be caught and have the fear of Federal Pound you in the (Whooop Whooop) prison put in them, because this is felonious activity.

    Anyone who thinks this is not jail worthy is FOULed up…they are just DUCKing reality.


  • JanS September 16, 2010 (10:50 am)

    Dana…what if Dr. Sterling hadn’t been coming out his door when this happened? What if, God forbid, his house had caught fire? Would you feel the same way about the punishment of these cowards? Really? Arson is arson, and yes, they need to see the inside of a jail, even for a short time. Hopefully, Bubba Duck will be waiting for them there !

  • SA September 16, 2010 (10:50 am)

    Maybe someone can do a little work with the video to enlarge the images of the person in hopes of identification? If you take the original video file, you should be able to do that which would be more useful than just watching the original.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (11:05 am)

    To Carson and others commenting on video quality — yep, will be upgrading. Expensive, so I have not gone there yet. Was hoping to not have to go there…. should I have known better? Is this really where it is at now? Guess so… I grew up in a different age. Really. Guess I have to adjust…

  • SA September 16, 2010 (11:20 am)

    You don’t need to upgrade. Just take the video files and enlarge the key parts. Any simple video editing software should be able to accomplish this.

  • RJB September 16, 2010 (11:30 am)

    These stoopid people are really ducked up (sorry). I am so glad no one was hurt and that there was not more damage. The vandalism in West Seattle is out of control!! People breaking the recently planted trees on Fauntleroy, stealing things, slashing tires now arson?? What gives??? I love the ducks and I am 40 something….very upset. OF COURSE the morons posted it on You Tube….what is up with the police in this area? Are they that understaffed? I see parking inforcement ALL THE TIME on Fauntleroy, how about more police cruisers?? Horseback cops??? Pull some cops outta Belltown and bring them to the Westside. So sorry for your loss….we really do appreciate all your hard work and the memories you create!

  • underwhelmed September 16, 2010 (11:35 am)

    I never really understand the 911/police decision to just ignore active citizen pursuits like this. It seems like they wouldn’t have had a lot of trouble getting a car down there in 2-3 minutes and another one at the other end of Lincoln park and they could have caught these guys. I consider the lackluster response to be pretty unacceptable considering that the Southwest precinct police in the area probably weren’t doing anything else at the time. Apathetic 911 operators are unacceptable.

    I have to agree that my interactions with police and 911 leads me to believe that we are, in deed, on our own out there.

    I’ve recently heard reference to police officer’s downplaying crime in order to make their crime statistics appear “better” and I wonder if this is going on at Southwest?

    Seems like the girl in the video is our best bet at catching these guys. She looks the most identifiable. Could we see pictures of these guys where the video hasn’t been downgraded by youtube? Thanks.

    • WSB September 16, 2010 (11:57 am)

      Police’s first priority is in-progress “life safety” issues. I don’t know what was going on at the same time but sometimes you’ll get officers in two minutes for anything and other times if it’s not someone being shot/stabbed/beaten – there might be one of those cases working somewhere else, and you don’t get them immediately. (This is categorized on the police-report map
      as “residential property damage.”) Listen to the scanner for a while some night and see what they get to deal with. William and Frank are the West Seattle unit prefixes, if you listen to a citywide online scanner. Anyway, if you have concerns or questions – bring them directly to the local police. The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council resumes meetings next week and there is always a major police presence there – with leadership at the SW Precinct changing, as we reported here yesterday morning, I suspect we will see one if not both of the captains (will be checking on that with them) – 7 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 21st.

  • Dana September 16, 2010 (11:38 am)

    I just don’t think lighting a firework to destroy the display is the same thing as felony arson….but I am not a cop, judge, lawyer….And I think to wish jail time, inmate rape, general harm on some mean, heartless, destructive young adults (teens? It is hard to tell in the video) goes in the ‘overboard’ category. I really hope whoever did this is caught and punished and it truly makes me sad that it happened….very lucky he was there and the damage wasn’t worse.

  • RJB September 16, 2010 (11:40 am)

    Silly Goose…is this posted on You Tube? If so under what? I would love to leave some choice comments. It is probably on someones Facebook page. Morons.

  • Kendra September 16, 2010 (11:45 am)

    What makes people so mean spirited? What a pathetic pack of losers.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (11:51 am)

    Video Quality and Enhancements: Won’t help much in this scenario where they were wearing masks or wraps around the head. Not homeless. Homeless people generally don’t spend their money on expensive fireworks.
    As for enhancing these photos. They are stills from the video which uses a low level wma highly compressed format so it doesn’t take up tons of hard drive space. Chris Boffoli (sp?) tried with some stills from an earlier hit and run, but, they are pretty dismal in quality.
    My guess again, is that they did not stick around to film this since it was early (11:12 p.m.) — lights were still on in the neighborhood, etc. The shorter person in the background is likely a female on the phone as it happened, so someone other than these three may have knowledge…
    Jail Time: There is no accident here. Premeditated arson. If it had been a small firecracker, that is one thing, but powerful aerials can go through windows, walls, and people. They are not much different than a grenade in paper form. You can fire one of those out of tube at someone and put a giant hole in them. Try it sometime…. serious stuff and jail time… yes, not just because it was me, but because this kind of use of powerful fireworks is worse than a gun.

  • Jules September 16, 2010 (12:04 pm)

    These are punks and they deserve punishment. I am sure this is probably not the worst these a-holes have done…guaranteed if they were caught we would find they have a record. They are already corrupt individuals, if you ask me there is NO QUESTION deserve jailtime. Things will only get worse. We need tougher punishment in cases like these…and perhaps there wouldn’t be as many!
    So sorry to hear about the Duckies!

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    Geez… this is no different than a drive by shooting. These perps had no idea if the first explosion would be enough to propel the second and third explosions outside of the area they planted it in and into a home through a window, or what. The idea that this is just “fireworks play” is ludicrous and the idea that it doesn’t rise to the level of drive by shooting is not very well thought out, people… These are not explosives experts who put a cement block behind the explosions to guide them in any particular direction…
    As for police and responsiveness… Patrick were you a former policeman or something? You seem to have a clear bias about the “quality of response, involvement and the work” of police.
    So, in your analysis, does this rise to the level of a drive-by shooting? Let me know, would be really interested in just why you are always minimizing this kind of life-threatening activity.

    • WSB September 16, 2010 (12:30 pm)

      Dr. S, if you are addressing me, it’s Tracy, not Patrick. I am editor of the site, chief reporter/writer unless a story is bylined otherwise, and I respond to comments. I’m neither analyzing nor minimizing anything but trying to explain to people who comment and don’t know the priority level set by police, and also to urge them (this is more addressed to the commenter who went on to speculate that police are downplaying crime rates) to take their concerns directly to police, which I also would urge you to do. This is categorized as “residential property damage” in the police report, according to the online map (which now shows toplines on incidents same-day – that information was recently made available), and if I were you, I would contact the officer investigating the case to ask why it’s not categorized as arson. I don’t know the RCW’s well enough to know why they categorize incidents one way or another, but I do know how they prioritize calls, because we have interviewed them and covered three years worth of public meetings and heard the procedure explained over, and over, and over again, both by police officials and by 911 center managers who also have appeared at WSCPC meetings to answer questions – TR

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (12:24 pm)

    Some data on the power of the explosion. A 6 x 12 inch chunk of the water park landed more than 50 feet away.

  • dsa September 16, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    Blowing stuff up on another persons property looks like arson to me. I’d like to be on the jury.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    Thanks, Tracy. I am a little hot on this. But, really, “residential property damage?” I guess drive by shootings constitute residential property damage if it puts holes in the walls?
    I don’t think police have adjusted to the potential weapons use of fireworks that is beginning to dawn on people who either can’t legally own a gun, or afford a gun.

  • Lynne September 16, 2010 (12:41 pm)

    Tracy rocks.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (12:53 pm)

    Oh, and, don’t forget the comparison to bombs… I am not an expert, and obviously, the bomb experts haven’t shown up here yet, so, can’t say for sure, but, seems to me something that can tear off a thick piece of major heavy duty toy plastic (the kind you can stand on and jump up and down on and probably run over a car with) that is about 6 oz heavy and toss it 50 feet away is more powerful than most pipe bombs. To view the original that Toyr R Us sells, see http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2557497#showReviews (the green section is what took the brunt of the explosion). We are talking kid-indestructible plastic.

  • Katie September 16, 2010 (1:05 pm)

    I like that all the reviews of this on the Toys R Us website say how flimsy and weak the waterpark is.

  • getzel September 16, 2010 (1:16 pm)

    I run by your house often and this is the highlight each time. I am so sorry this happened and I can’t imagine why.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (1:22 pm)

    Hey Katie: Actually, I figured there would be some folks like you who would cherry pick to downplay the seriousness. If you read closely, the only weak parts are the pump. In fact, one review says basically “her oversized kid could not damage it.” It’s tough. I will test it for you by running over it after I take things down, and we will see. Really, Katie…

  • Denise September 16, 2010 (1:36 pm)

    These loser punks will definitely get caught because they aren’t going to be able to keep their traps shut about what happened, which is actually a good thing. It’s just a matter of time. I think downplaying or minimizing what happened is a mistake. If they aren’t caught and dealt with, their going to do this again, but next time they’ll be even more bold. I keep thinking about what would have happened if the house would have caught on fire and someone had died. Would it then still be considered a “harmless prank?” Ridiculous.

  • West Seattle Mallard September 16, 2010 (1:38 pm)

    You’re on the right track but until we call out the big guns we’ll get no results. We need to contact Duck Norris. Remember, sharks have a week dedicated to him and his tears cure cancer (too bad he never cries).

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (1:45 pm)

    Ducky Norris and Ducky Eastwood…. yah!

  • waterworld September 16, 2010 (1:47 pm)

    I am not an “explosives expert” but I have represented folks accused of using incendiary devices to destroy property, as well as arson and similar crimes. From the video and the descriptions provided, I am not sure whether the device used qualifies as an explosive under the definitions in the RCWs, which rely in part on classifications under the federal Department of Transportation. Assuming the substance used qualified as an explosive under state law, then the persons involved could be charged with malicious explosion in the third degree. The standard sentence range for that crime, for a person with no prior convictions that count toward his or her sentence, is 51 to 68 months.

    If this is classified as an arson, rather than an explosion, then it could likely be charged as arson in the second degree, which has a standard sentence range of three to nine months.

    Under state law, I believe this would be treated differently from a drive-by shooting, for several reasons. One reason is that when a person uses a firearm in the course of committing a felony, he or she faces an additional mandatory term on top of the sentence for the felony offense. For example, a person who commits a drive by shooting will be sentenced for the attempted assault or murder, plus an additional five years for the use of the firearm.

    I am very sorry to hear the ducks were attacked, and happy to hear no live ducks or humans were injured.

  • Duckitude September 16, 2010 (2:14 pm)

    Hi waterworld. Nice discussion. As for no humans being injured…. it all depends on how you define “injured.” Terrorizing folks causes injury. You want to discuss that a bit?

  • Virtual_Judy September 16, 2010 (2:59 pm)

    Hmmm. About a week ago high-powered fireworks were being set off in the evening in the WS Junction to Admiral vicinity. There was no “occasion” for this that I know of. Consider this WS residents: Thugs are on the loose with high powered fireworks at their disposal casting about for opportunities to blow things up. This could very well become more wide-spread if the cowardly perpetrators are not brought to justice. How is it? First a sicko “avenges” himself upon very harmless targets. Upon success with those, he and she progress to more “dangerous” targets. It is an outlet for bottled-up rage looking for a target. These crazies really must be caught! And I hope they are not inflicted upon unsuspecting cancer patients. I think cleaning out dumpsters or latrines would be too good for them!

  • Jay-zed September 16, 2010 (3:30 pm)

    Golly. The firebombing of a grown man’s display of toys and the theft of a pair of heel-less, toe-less trapeze boots in the same news day. West Seattle news is certainly eclectic if nothing else.

  • EyeLiveInWS September 16, 2010 (4:03 pm)

    Really? You are going to equate a drive-by shooting to your ducks being destroyed by a firecracker? We are all on our own out here? Yeah, I guess my question is going to be…
    If we are really “on our own,” what do we do now? Should we all buy guns? Then what? Do we shoot people for destroying plastic ducks? Or as one commenter stated – let’s all “throttle them!”
    Rebuild your duck thing, upgrade your video, and move on. Next time they come back – because $500 is NOT enough to have friends turn on eachother – leave the fire burning and just worry about and protect your property. Then, when you call 9-1-1, tell them the fire is burning. I bet they show up much faster. Would that satisfy at least one of your what, 10 or so complaints?
    Plastic lawn ornaments were destroyed. Is this really worth all this?

  • waterworld September 16, 2010 (4:10 pm)

    Ron: Always happy to discuss. Of course serious non-physical injuries often result from violent attacks that don’t cause bodily harm. I was thinking of the bodily harm alone when I used the word “injury” earlier.
    Just to put this in the context of the criminal issues, it’s worth noting that our state legislature has focused primarily on redressing physical harms caused by crimes against persons and their property. There are some notable exceptions, such as malicious harassment, which penalizes threats or threatening acts motivated by race, sex, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other forms of bigotry. A person can be convicted of malicious harassment even if no one suffered any bodily injury. (The usual example is burning a cross near the home of the victim.) In general, though, criminal penalties attach to conduct that causes bodily or physical harm, as opposed to mental harm.
    Specifically in the case of arson or explosion, the degree of seriousness attached to the crime is partly tied to whether there were physical injuries. Emotional or mental harm is not a factor that increases the serious of the crime under the statute. I think that makes sense given that emotional harm is so hard to measure compared to broken bones.
    However, if a person is convicted of arson, the sentence might well be greater if the victim suffered significant emotional trauma, such as fear of losing his home or his own life. That makes sense too, from my perspective. If you were at home and had every reason to fear the fire would spread and take your home or your life, then the perpetrator probably deserves a longer sentence. If, on the other hand, the display that was attacked was in an uninhabited space, the sentence might be lower.

  • Bettytheyeti September 16, 2010 (4:22 pm)

    “Well . . . do you feel lucky, punks?” -Quack

    Ducky Eastwood!

  • West Seattle Mallard September 16, 2010 (4:22 pm)

    Eye live. . .
    Why so angry? Perhaps people are taking this hard because Duckitude did something nice for the community that brought smiles to the faces of many and was rewarded with distruction. Perhaps they were justifiably afraid for their house and personal safety. Perhaps we are fed up with all the vandals and lunatics that are roaming our streets and damaging our property. Whatever the reason, why do you have to act like such a butthead? I, personally, don’t equate this to a drive-by but it didn’t cause me to write in and argue with those that feel so strongly – it’s their opinion and who am I to argue? Your message, on the other hand, was a catalyst that may (or may not) ruffle some proverbial feathers. I hope you are prepared to be pretty lonely on your side of the fence as I think most people will disagree with your opinion. Thanks for sharing it but don’t feel obliged to in the future. WSB Rocks!

  • EyeLiveInWS September 16, 2010 (6:15 pm)

    Nice try, Mallard. I don’t think I was angry. I am actually laughing AT people for the comments. I will admit, there is some sarcasm – which some people like to say is a form of anger. Anyway, I think that people need to calm down a bit.
    And to laugh at you a little, I have to tell you, I don’t think our streets are full of vandals and lunatics. Three bad kids blew up some lawn ornaments, and that’s all that happened. Well, that and the firecrackers started a small fire, but really, that’s all that happened. Well, some stuff got blown up, started a small fire, and the owner got the poop scared out of him. But that’s all that happened!

  • I. Ponder September 16, 2010 (6:48 pm)

    On the flip side I think most people are so isolated nowadays they wouldn’t even recognize someone who lives down the street from them. The vandals either live in or hang out in the neighborhood. I know the owner of “the duckery” is the opposite kind who wants to engage people.

    I was witness to a bad car crash a couple weeks ago. A resident of the house in front of which it occurred asked me if the woman I was talking with was the driver. I had to explain to her that it was her next door neighbor, who she’d somehow managed to never see or meet. Not atypical nowadays I think.

  • Mallard September 16, 2010 (7:07 pm)

    You are right, Eye. I was projecting. I was lumping the smash and grab bandit, Madison flasher, homophobic vandalism guy (Ryan Cox), and all the other whack jobs together and I should have separated these criminals from those criminals. It sounds like you’re probably 100% behind them too since no person really got physically hurt and it’s just a little broken glass, little exposed weiner, and little paint on cars and garages, what’s the harm? Also, did you see the video? That’s no “firecracker.” On the other hand it probably is a few hooligans that probably weren’t thinking. I wouldn’t expect the police to surround Lincoln Park and send up a helicopter to catch the perps. Maybe our thoughts on this are closer than I’d like to admit. I still feel sorry for Duckitude because he’s doing something nice and he just got hosed. Hopefully there will be a silver lining.

  • AnneT September 16, 2010 (8:38 pm)

    Very sad, this is one of my favorite West Seattle tour stops. I just brought a soon to be new beach drive redident by on Sunday to admire the duckiness.

    I am super talented with a glue gun, if you need to organize a work party…count me in.

  • bridge to somewhere September 16, 2010 (8:49 pm)

    Yes, the situation sucks. No, this is not in any way close to a drive-by shooting. When I was a kid in Indiana it was cool for neighborhood boys to try to blow-up mailboxes with M-80s. Stupid, yes; illegal yes; vandalism yes; but did those kids I know want to actually hurt people with their antics? Definitely not. Sometimes people do stupid, potentially dangerous things in the name of fun. This is not to forgive the behavior, but it’s to offer another perspective than the one calling this arson or potentially a potential murder attempt (!). Let’s assume that these jerks thought it’d be hilarious to blow-up the duck pond, not try to burn down houses or kill someone. This seems like a more sensible explanation, no?

  • Jackiec September 16, 2010 (9:03 pm)

    Those punks! I hope that someone puts a firecracker in the you know what and teach them a huge lesson. It is arson, no doubt about it and they should be arrested for this act of vandalism. I have enjoyed the Duckie display for many years and it is always one of the highlights to see how the display changes seasonally. Thanks, Ron for sharing all your wonderful talents with the world. Duckies rule!!!

  • Drury September 16, 2010 (10:27 pm)

    Dear Doc Ron,
    I’m so sorry this happened. Your duckitude installation is one of neighborhood destinations that make West Seattle fun, a display that encourages me to put more energy into making my neighborhood more enjoyable…I will never understand why some people see creative endeavors as something to destroy. What’s even creepier: they clearly planned it out (hoods), and they had no idea if the fire would spread to your house, and those around you. It was an act of arson. I don’t know how anyone could think differently. Please know there are a lot of people who understand.

  • Drury September 16, 2010 (10:45 pm)

    Also, I’m sensing that some people don’t understand how close the fire/explosion was to your house. Very close. As if someone blew a fire work into any one’s front porch area, from one foot away.

    • WSB September 16, 2010 (10:50 pm)

      Drury, that’s a good point. Having walked past it (and stopped too) many a time – consulting our wider photo, which was too blurry to use, it’s right up against the house, by the outside of a chimney and very close to a window – TR

  • Duckitude September 17, 2010 (7:46 am)

    Drury: What I keep trying to get across. The pictures here do not give a sense of how close the display is to the house. It is the same as this taking place on a porch. No different, and maybe even closer since the back of the display where the fire started is 8 inches from the exterior living room wall.
    Secondly, there apparently needs to be some remedial classes held in West Seattle for a number of folks here who lack critical thinking or the desire to do some research before they open their mouths… really.
    This is no prank. It is clearly a premeditated attempt to suppress free speech, artistic expression, and to terrorize. The idea that these people did NOT know how powerful the 3 stage aerial firework they used would be is just plain ludicrous. This is NOT blowing up somebody’s mailbox.
    You can dither all you want about whether this is art, but it is art, NOT JUST LAWN ORNAMENTS… I get to define what art is, and so does the artistic community, and so far, they have voted it is ART.
    So, for the attorney here who thinks this is just some minimal “teenage” prank… really?
    And, teenage? Can you tell what the age of a masked person is? I can’t.
    The reward has gone up to $1,000.
    The police still dither. Thanks for nothing, Seattle Gov.

  • Duckitude September 17, 2010 (7:49 am)

    BTW — check the photos of the various displays at http://www.DuckiesRule.com/garden.htm if you want to get a sense of how close the display is to the structure of the house itself.
    BTW — My landlord is seething.

  • Duckitude September 17, 2010 (7:50 am)

    Just to make sure you get it —
    Reward is now $1,000.

  • WOW September 17, 2010 (10:56 am)

    more rudeness. what a shock.

  • Cheryl September 17, 2010 (10:57 am)

    That is SO not cool. And despite what some of the idiots here seem to think, this goes WAY beyond vandalism in my opinion. Arson is a big damn deal. And I think sadly the Doc is right, here in West Seattle, we ARE on our own when it comes to getting a cop response to serious situations. I had an incident earlier this week here in Fauntlee Hill where a young punk was walking through the neighborhood knocking over all the garbage bins and banging his hands against cars as he walked up and down the streets. Apparently, there was a major incident going on in Highland Park at the same time, so there weren’t any officers to dispatch. And while this punk wasn’t hurting anyone, or at least as far as I can tell he hadn’t, the blase response from the dispatcher was enough to convince me that if I actually had someone breaking IN to my house, or setting something on my property on FIRE, I’d better hope I have a bat, or a gun, or something a little more useful than my cell phone to call 911, b/c they weren’t coming.
    I’m really sorry the lovely ducky display was destroyed. I for one LOVE to see those little dudes every time I’m walking near Lowman, or when I take my daughter to the park there for some swinging time. I really hope the reward catches the sh*ts who did this, and I also hope they DO some time for their crime. DISGUSTING and DANGEROUS display of stupidity.

  • enviromaven September 17, 2010 (1:49 pm)

    Thanks for bringing so many smiles, Dr. Duckitude. I can’t understand why anyone would destroy these wonderful displays, and/or minimize the risk involved in the use of illegal explosives right next to someone’s home. Unbelievable!

  • me on 28th Ave SW September 17, 2010 (1:54 pm)

    The one thing that seems to missing from this thread and the forum postings regarding it…..

    Yes, duckitude. The attitude of a ducky. Which, of course, is different than the attitude of a duck, but similar. Traditionally, the most popular duck-related quote is “he/she handled it just like water off a duck’s back,” which is translated as “she/he is resilient.” If that is true of a duck, then that is three times more true of a rubber ducky, which, of course, is impervious to rain.

    Eckhart Tolle, the author of “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now,” offers us another view of “duckitude.” In both books, Tolle observes that when two ducks get into a tussle, they end it by flapping their wings and swimming off. As far as he can tell, they don’t stay mad – they don’t carry a grudge. They flap their wings and get on with life. The “duck lesson,” according to Tolle is “Flap your wings, which translates as ‘let go of the story.'” The human mind, in other words, often gets attached to THE STORY and relives it over and over again, thus, living mostly in the past and not in the present. If that is true of ducks, then it is three times more true of rubber duckies who never get into fights in the first place.

    Duckitude. Gotta have it. Can’t live long without it. Planet earth requires it.

  • bridge to somewhere September 17, 2010 (2:04 pm)

    “there apparently needs to be some remedial classes held in West Seattle for a number of folks here who lack critical thinking or the desire to do some research before they open their mouths… really” (Hmm, I wonder if there are remedial classes in listening to other viewpoints without resorting to insults?)

  • Duckitude September 17, 2010 (3:48 pm)

    Non insulting viewpoints, no problem Insulting viewpoints require countervailing insults. Unless you know a better way to deal with bullies… First law of insultodynamics.

  • bridge to somewhere September 17, 2010 (5:41 pm)

    ah! your response actually helps. you feel like you’re being bullied, and people are insulting you. i think if you read through the comments again with an open mind you’d find your fellow citizens agree that this was bad, but suggest only that this wasn’t an attempted arson or attempted murder. nobody was trying to insult you, and i don’t think anyone was trying to bully you, and i don’t think anyone said what happened to you was ok. i know you’re very angry about what happened–i would be too–but please realize nobody is attacking you; people are instead offering you a perspective that might make you realize this is not the biggest criminal act west seattle’s ever seen, and it looks to a lot of people like vandalism, plain and simple (and it is totally OK if you don’t agree–but we’re not idiots for thinking that’s what it is).

  • warren September 17, 2010 (10:40 pm)

    Happy to contribute to replace them. Probably kids doing a prank and hopefully they will be caught and put to garbage pickup . Too bad there arent latrines they could scrub. Let us know where to donate. Thanks

  • Duckitude September 18, 2010 (8:40 am)

    bridge to somewhere: Good thoughts. Nicely stated, but a little over-simplified. As far as I can tell at least one or two earlier posts have been subsequently deleted. I have not kept a running printout of this thread, but maybe the WSB can confirm that or not. The idea that trying to talk me out of my assessment and reaction to what happened is pretty much in the vein of bullying when it rises to the level of not asking “Why?” The earlier posts the use my profession against me is clearly bullying. I could go on and do a further analysis for you, but, honestly, I don’t know if you would get it, because your agenda is pretty clear — you overstate things to try to convince me to not be so upset — for instance, I have never said “this is the biggest criminal act west seattle’s ever seen.” The fact that you don’t get that means until you become aware of how you overstate for the purpose of winning an argument is bullying, there is no point to try to help you learn about bullying in its various nuances and uses. I have to get to work. I work weekends so my clients don’t have to miss work — oh, yah, I am sure that makes me a really crappy psychiatrist, right? Geez.

  • Duckitude September 18, 2010 (8:44 am)

    Check wow’s bullying above by using my own profession to attack me. Interesting ploy, eh? If you don’t understand what I am saying, find a bullying expert and have them review this thread. Then you would have an “unbiased” professional opinion — instead of my “clearly biased” one. Laters.

  • WSB September 18, 2010 (8:54 am)

    And that would be a comment to which we were not flagged previously – I hadn’t seen it – and yes, it was out of bounds so it’s out. We don’t have the “report this” button available for comments as we do for forum posts but the manual version is to e-mail us at editor@westseattleblog.com – It’s helpful if you provide a direct link to the comment in question (if you right-click on the number sign on a comment, that copies its direct URL), but just saying “the comment at x o’clock by so and so in thread X” works too – TR

  • c@lbob September 18, 2010 (1:54 pm)

    It seems to me that one can only take Duckitude’s statements here as bullying if they are looking at the arson as a positive act, worthy of support.

    Often, there aren’t two sides to a story. The action by those criminals was wrong by any measure.

  • me on 28th Ave SW September 18, 2010 (2:06 pm)

    For the record, I do not support arson or destruction of property. Not sure how you got that from my comments, if you were saying this to me c@lbob. I like your clever screen name by the way.

  • catlbob September 19, 2010 (1:19 am)

    As I interpret the situation, Duckitude has been more than patient with years of vandalism directed toward his display. At some point, enough is enough duck mellowness or no.

    I don’t think Duckitude is overly outraged, I am outraged, too. The explosion that engulfed the display was dangerous. Officialdom is ignoring the crime, the unspoken meme from police and fire being that there are more important things for them to do. Much like the case of the pedestrian who was killed in a crosswalk at 47th and Admiral, the solution is too onerous for our public guardians to take action.

    The two examples above aren’t the same as nuisances like a neighbors barking dog or unknown teenagers strolling down a residential street.

    Going with the flow is alright, up to a point. When the white water and rocks in the shallows show up, it’s time to start paddling.

  • New Ducky Fan2 September 19, 2010 (4:58 am)

    It is beyond me that anyone could minimize this life-threatening action as a mere “prank.” If Dr. Sterling’s house had caught fire … if a little one, out late for a stroll along the street with his or her parents, had run ahead and into harm’s way … if shards of plastic or burning materials had caused Dr. Sterling or anyone else bodily harm … I won’t go on. It freaks me out. As bad as the physical damage was or could have been, what’s worse is the assault both to children’s dreams and to Dr. Sterling’s right to peaceful enjoyment of his home. The perps are worse than vandals, worse even than arsonists or assailants; they are destroyers of dreams. Dr. Sterling’s displays are for HIS NEIGHBORS’ CHILDREN, created at his own expense and no small effort. It makes me uneasy that young people in the neighborhood — not long ago children themselves — could be so psychologically damaged as to do something this violent, cruel, potentially life-threatening, and — yes — genuinely stoooopid.

    “Duckitude” isn’t just a handle; it’s an outlook on life that combines fortitude and optimism. “Duckitude” is compassionate, but not weak; it does not brook violence to the person or to the spirit. I used to believe in “instant karma,” but now I also believe in “Duckitude.”

    An addition to the existing cash reward fund for finding these unneighborly perps may overcome whatever loyalty might exist among their “best friends.” West Seattle, here’s a challenge. How much more money are you willing to throw into the pot to raise the ante on catching these jerks? If they are caught, you’ve done your good deed for the year … and maybe for next year, too.

    Two questions: 1) WHAT ARE YOUR CHILDREN’S DREAMS WORTH TO YOU? and 2) WHAT IS PUBLIC SAFETY WORTH TO YOU? If I seem angry, well, I am, and if you’re not angry … jeez, get your vitals checked, or your morals. DO THE RIGHT THING AND GET A REWARD FUND GOING THAT NOBODY, NO MATTER HOW TWISTED OR STOOOPID THEY ARE, CAN FAIL TO BE TEMPTED BY. Do the right thing.

    This isn’t about duckies, or garden art displays, or even about what level of crime has been committed. It’s about kids, and it’s about the right to enjoy one’s home with a reasonable assurance of safety. If you’re a grown-up, do the right thing. I’m certainly going to try to. I’ll get in touch with Dr. Sterling’s landlord and get the ball rolling. Will you please join me?

  • Duckitude September 19, 2010 (10:01 am)

    A memorial video has been posted for Ducky Bongo. It is at http://www.youtube.com/user/ADuckyLife?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/uEpkBrxi9DI
    I would call it PG rated since it involves the destruction of a ducky entertainer toy that was loved by hundreds of children.

  • M September 19, 2010 (10:44 am)

    Me on 28th – You’re not alone in your observations, Thanks for posting them.

  • bridge to somewhere September 19, 2010 (7:22 pm)

    @me on 28th. i, obviously, concur.

Sorry, comment time is over.