Followup: Why New Year’s gunfire on Alki brought out SWAT

Tonight we finally have details on the gunfire incident that brought Seattle Police SWAT officers to an Alki neighborhood in the early hours of New Year’s Day, as mentioned briefly here that night.

We’ve obtained the full police report; what follows is what SPD says happened, starting with multiple 911 calls reporting “shots fired” at 60th/Hinds (map) less than an hour into the New Year:

The callers said they saw three people standing next to a small white pickup truck at the intersection, and, the report says, “seeing and hearing multiple shots fired from a handgun into the air toward the west and northwest. They also saw the muzzle flash when the handgun was being discharged.” Lest the operator suspect fireworks instead of gunshots, the report notes that one caller is active-duty military and “very familiar with firearms.” And then there was this: “While the complainants were on the phone with 911, the emergency operator could hear gunshots in the background.”

No surprise, then, that: “Numerous police units responded to the area.” A marked patrol car turned its spotlight on the white pickup truck, at which time one of two people standing alongside it ran away, toward the house the pickup was parked in front of. Officers “identified themselves as Seattle Police and ordered both subjects to stop and get on the ground. The subject who ran toward the residence ignored the officers’ commands and disappeared into the house.” The other one obeyed the commands and police took him into custody, though he turned out later to be a witness, not a suspect.

Meantime, other officers “quickly contained” the house into which the other person had run. After assessing the situation, they knocked, announced themselves, and ordered him to come outside. According to the report: “A male voice from inside responded with a loud ‘No’. Officers backed off and continued to contain the house.”

All the while, other officers were talking with the witness, who said he had met two men “at bars on Alki” earlier and followed them back to that neighborhood, where he said he saw them take turns “shooting a silver revolver, pointing it in the air toward the northwest. He believed they shot the handgun at least 12 times. But he insisted he had never touched or fired the gun, and said he hadn’t run because he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, the report says: “Due to the nature of the call, SWAT was requested at the scene. … After several attempts to hail the occupants of the house (via a patrol car’s PA system), a female stepped out of the house. The female … stated her son … was inside the house. When officers escorted (her) to a safer location, (one suspect) also came out of the house and surrendered.” Five minutes later, the other suspect came out. The report describes both as “obviously intoxicated.” The first suspect to emerge, a 26-year-old man who police say lives at the house, “admitted to owning a handgun and told officers that it was inside his safe in his room,” though he then later changed his story about having a safe, and: “When asked how many times he had fired the gun tonight, he replied, ‘I cannot say’ several times.” The other suspect, 25, “denied any knowledge and/or involvement with possessing a handgun or shooting a firearm” and said “he was not going to say anything else without an attorney.”

The first suspect wouldn’t give police consent to search the house, the report says, so they got a judge to issue a search warrant: “When officers returned to the house with the search warrant (the first suspect’s) mother said her son was only shooting it in the air and asked what the big deal was.” Subsequently searching both the home and the ’93 white Ford pickup, police found “a loaded 5-shot Taurus .357 revolver, 15 spent .38 caliber (empty casings) rounds and 29 unspent rounds (mixture of .38 and .357) in the suspect’s room, and “illegal fireworks” in his truck.

Both suspects were booked into the King County Jail for investigation of reckless endangerment. The one who lived at the house was released last night; the other one is still in, with bail set at $1,000, listed as being under investigation for assault as well as endangerment.

32 Replies to "Followup: Why New Year's gunfire on Alki brought out SWAT"

  • Eric January 3, 2012 (10:16 pm)

    Wow… The mom takes the cake.. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
    One would think that living in that neighborhood would necessitate greater mental faculties to afford a house.

  • xena January 3, 2012 (10:20 pm)

    Good job getting the full report WSB! We were stuck at a friend’s house on 59th Ave SW because the police had the road closed off and were tellilng people to stay in their houses. At 2:30 AM the road opened back up. As we left, we saw the SWAT vehicles on 60th and at least 10 police cars in the area. The police scanners were quiet during the incident and we had no idea what was happening.

    • WSB January 3, 2012 (11:53 pm)

      Xena – The scanners really WERE quiet, at least on this incident. I’m still rather embarrassed to not have found out about it until it was all but over. The scanners were jumping otherwise with everything from the downtown double shooting earlier to the crowd control for the Space Needle to some mutual aid for the quadruple shooting in Skyway (later linked to the Mount Rainier ranger murder hours afterward).
      A friendly request to anybody who hasn’t heard this request already — please consider putting the 24/7/365 (no such thing as a holiday in the news biz) WSB phone number into your phone so you can text or call us if you see something. We don’t ask for names and we don’t keep records, we just want to know when you’ve seen something – much of the time, even a fleeting sighting of multiple police cars won’t turn out to be anything much, but if it’s not something we’re already aware of, we’ll almost always get somebody out to have a look, whatever the hour. 206-293-6302.

  • alkimom January 3, 2012 (11:00 pm)

    Thanks for the outstanding report. I live on 58th and was very sure that I heard gunfire, having spent many hours on gun ranges. Those guys obviously didn’t learn much about gravity in school. What goes up comes down, sometimes with tragic results. To the mom, THAT’S what the big deal is.

  • JanS January 3, 2012 (11:26 pm)

    do I hear banjos?

  • ddddana January 3, 2012 (11:35 pm)

    Hello! What comes up must come down. We don’t live in the middle of nowhere or in the 1800’s when you just shoot anywhere and anything. These a-holes should be forced to pay all the medical bills for that poor 12 year old kid in Florida that got hit in the head with a stray bullet. You don’t need to fire a gun to have a happy celebration

  • metrognome January 4, 2012 (12:12 am)

    thanks to SPD for dealing with this potentially lethal situation quickly and efficiently.
    It’s possible the scanners were quiet because SPD was using a closed tactical frequency so as not to tip off the suspects if they had a scanner.

  • West Seattle mom January 4, 2012 (12:25 am)

    Sorry we could have called. We watched the entire thing with glasses of champagne from several houses down after having to walk to our house since the street was shut down …. SPD and SWAT did a bang up job.

  • sbre January 4, 2012 (5:09 am)

    West Seattle mom~”bang up job” Intentional pun?

    metrognome~You’re 100% correct as to why no scanner communications re this situation.

  • W January 4, 2012 (8:11 am)

    RE: JanS comment “Do I hear banjos?” You are TOO FUNNY!

  • NikkiTaMere January 4, 2012 (9:21 am)

    Poster boy for the NRA, the country’s only official criminal lobby

  • Jim P. January 4, 2012 (9:49 am)

    “The report describes both as “obviously intoxicated.”

    Well, that part didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out beforehand. :)

    To the woman who made the crack about the NRA: Why not find out what we really advocate? I guarentee you it is not drunks shooting into the air or criminals being allowed to own firearms.

    Since you may not be educated on that subject: People covicted of a felony and many domstic violence charges or who have been involuntarily committed are prohibited from owning firearms and that’s a Federal law.

  • Gary Watts January 4, 2012 (11:12 am)

    I play the banjo and even I know that you don’t fire a weapon into the air. Perhaps we should make firearm safety classes a requirement before the purchase or ownership of any firearm.

    Re the previous poster, I agree that these folks should be responsible for any damages their weapons caused. Perhaps a mention in the paper or flyers could be posted in the neighborhood they were firing in so folks will know why there is a bullet hole in their car or their roof.

    • WSB January 4, 2012 (12:50 pm)

      GW, just a data point – more people read WSB in this area than any ‘paper,’ local or regional (regulars = 35,000 homes/businesses per week, another 80,000+ who visit once or twice over the course of a month – our 2011 year-in-review stats report is in the works for later this week. And our stories are certainly printable!) That aside, there was no mention of property damage to cars or homes from the bullets – if anyone did discover that afterward, it wasn’t in the police report, but we’d be interested too ( – TR

  • Ajax January 4, 2012 (1:35 pm)

    West Seattle too often reminds me of the small town in the Deep South where I grew up. I continue to be puzzled by the amount of trash inhabiting very expensive real estate.

  • David January 4, 2012 (1:44 pm)

    Jim I can tell you exactly what the NRA advocates and I am a gun owner who will never join. The NRA advocates making sure mentally ill people and felons are able to acquire guns through the “gun-show loophole”. The NRA advocates spending billions of dollars in lobbying to make sure that this loophole stays open and trying to strike down waiting periods for gun purchases. I am mystified how any responsible gun owner can be in favor of the above. Did I miss anything?

  • CandrewB January 4, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    Ajax, usually these properties are inherited. I am mystified some can afford the property taxes.

    • WSB January 4, 2012 (2:41 pm)

      It’s a complete sidetrack so I hate to even comment on it, but regarding those who have mentioned property costs etc: (a) Could be a rental for all we know. Police reports do not usually specify whether a resident of address X owns or rents it, unless that is germane to the incident, which here, it’s not. (b) Alleged crime/poor judgment knows no economic boundaries. Happens everywhere. (c) If you are not familiar with Alki – 60th/Hinds isn’t on the water, or even on a view bluff. It’s a few blocks inland. Certainly still a great place to live, I’m sure, but we’re not talking million-dollar mansions.
      Meantime, a small update. The other suspect got out of jail this morning; the log indicates he posted bond (bail had been set at $1,000). – TR

  • Jeff January 4, 2012 (2:31 pm)

    I’m a gun owner who won’t join the NRA because they are just a lobbying arm for the Republican party, whatever else they might support. Yet unlike David, I don’t support waiting periods for purchase, or restrictions on private sales. It’s almost like like the politics of firearms ownership is a nuanced issue :P

  • What the wha? January 4, 2012 (2:48 pm)

    ummm, totally OT but…. WSB, how do you figure this?

    “GW, just a data point – more people read WSB than any ‘paper’ in the area, local or regional (regulars = 35,000 homes/businesses per week, another 80,000+ who visit once or twice over the course of a month – our 2011 year-in-review stats report is in the works for later this week. And our stories are certainly printable!)”

    Have you not seen the daily circ for regional papers or traffic for major media sources in the region? I think this blog is fantastic but your statement above is quite misleading…..

    Do you mean West Seattle-specific? Please clarify.

    • WSB January 4, 2012 (3:02 pm)

      Yup. I worked in regional media and I know the numbers very well. TV in particular. (Even when I left four years ago, it was down dramatically from where it had been 15 years earlier.) Perhaps if I move the phrase “in this area” it will clarify. – TR

  • Scubafrog January 4, 2012 (3:01 pm)

    I wonder if the shooter was charged with felonies, or simply gross misdemeanors?

    • WSB January 4, 2012 (3:07 pm)

      Scuba – No one in this case has been charged with anything yet, as of my check of online records minutes ago, neither county or city court.

  • vger January 4, 2012 (3:12 pm)

    Wow – There sure is a lot of implication here that people with lower incomes are also lower in intelligence. We wouldn’t want any of “THOSE people” you know…. country folk (you know..them inbred banjo players) here in our nicely unaffordable neighborhood. That’s a pretty distasteful tone to have.

    Shooting a gun in the air IS pretty damn dumb. As is refusing to stop for the police. But wealthy intoxicated people don’t do dumb things?

    I guess I just hadn’t seen/heard this undercurrent/implication often around here….

  • Scubafrog January 4, 2012 (3:15 pm)

    WSB thanks for the info =)

  • What the wha? January 4, 2012 (3:22 pm)

    WSB, We talking DMA or MD or what b/c I’m looking at Circ for DMA seattle times daily newspaper and it’s 252,712. DMA print and online for them is 1.8 million in the past 30 days according to Scarborough 2011 data.

    VGER — nicely stated, thank you!

  • Mom2.0 January 4, 2012 (7:22 pm)

    “…mother said her son was only shooting it in the air and asked what the big deal was.”

    What’s the big deal?! My children were sleeping 40 feet from where your son was firing his gun, and we had the pleasure of having one of the guys attempt to enter our house when the police arrived. Maybe not a big deal to you, but terrifying for those of us who got to be part of this 1:30am experience.

    You/we are all very, very fortunate that there were no injuries.

  • waterworld January 4, 2012 (11:08 pm)

    scubafrog: Just a supplement to what WSB said about no charges having been filed. From what the police reports says, the two suspects were being investigated for reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment involves reckless conduct that is not as severe as a drive-by shooting, but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury. It’s a gross misdemeanor, not a felony.
    If the evidence showed that the person fired the weapon from the pickup truck OR that the person fired the weapon from the immediate area around the pickup truck and that the pickup truck was used to bring either the shooter or the weapon (or both) to the scene, then it would be drive-by shooting, which is a Class B felony.
    I’m sure there are some other offenses that could be investigated and possibly charged, but most of them would be misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors.

  • WS expat January 5, 2012 (9:14 am)

    Ajax, If you believe people who live on expensive real estate can’t act badly or stupidly, I refer you to two families who live in Hyannis Port, Mass., and Kennebunkport, Maine.

  • SoTrue January 5, 2012 (10:27 pm)

    Ajax, so true, so true.

    WSB deserves a better readership, as least as represented by many of the comments.

    • WSB January 5, 2012 (10:46 pm)

      SoTrue, we have a great readership. 35,000 regulars a week, tens of thousands more stopping by over the course of a month. Most don’t comment. Same with every news site on the planet. But many of those who do contribute greatly to the information and experience for others. Means a lot more than old-style media, where you get comments by doing stupid man-on-the-street interviews. Would be great if more people chose to comment but I know as a news reader that I don’t comment on the vast majority of what I read, either, so I would never ever decide to judge a site or its readers by its comments/commenters. The feature is here if folks want to say anything, and easily ignorable if they don’t – TR

  • phil dirt January 6, 2012 (7:10 am)

    David and Jeff: The reason you are legally allowed to own a firearm in this country, for the purpose of your own self defense, is because of the efforts of the NRA. If it were not so, only criminals, the police, military, and of course, the well connected, would be allowed to own a gun!

Sorry, comment time is over.