West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Eric from Crossfit West Seattle for the rainbow view over Lafayette Elementary and its playground. We have more news stories in queue for you on Wednesday but nothing mega-urgent – for now! – so we’re going to close out the night with this. Might even be showers overnight, says the forecast.
7:54 PM: Just got a note about more than a dozen emergency vehicles on SW Roxbury. We believe this is related to the King County Sheriff’s Office reporting a possible shooting in the 9600 block of 11th SW. More when we get there.
8 PM UPDATE: KCSO Sgt. Cindi West updates that this apparently is an accidental shooting. She tells our crew that a man appears to have been walking with a gun in his pocket, and when he reached into his pocket, the gun went off. He shot himself in the leg; he’s been taken to the hospital. Traffic is still moving on Roxbury, and the scene will be wrapping up.
After a community resource fair and youth performance, the mayor has just taken the microphone. We’ll be updating live.
6:41 PM: “We’re starting to see things turn around in the city, economically,” he begins, adding that he believes the city has recovered “more than half” the 35,000 jobs believed to have been lost in recent years. Current Seattle unemployment is estimated at 6.5 percent, he says, while noting that’s “still historically high.” He recalls a time when the “biggest challenge” was to manage growth – and then things went downhill. He says he’s “worked hard to have a city government responsive to people and their needs.” (If that sounds a little like campaigning … we should note, his first term ends next year, though we don’t believe he’s announced whether he plans to run for a second one.) He runs through some of the budget-cutting measures he says have been taken by the city in the past few years, including a quick allusion to community-center cuts – which have affected the facility in which this event is being held; it was a full-fledged community center, and now it is a teen center, also co-housing a Neighborhood Service Center. “We have to focus on good, sustainable economic growth that everybody can share,” he summarizes – “… and focus on our strengths.”
REST OF THE AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE, PLUS VIDEO OF THE ENTIRE EVENT, AFTER THE JUMP:Read More
With most schools starting next week, a quick message from Tiffani at Hiawatha:
We have had a few spots for Hiawatha Community Center Before/After School program open up. This is for children attending Lafayette only. The Schmitz Park Program is still full. Call the center at 206-684-7441 or e-mail at Tiffani.Melake@seattle.gov, Hiawatha.Childcare@seattle.gov
Announced by the county this afternoon:
The King County Water Taxi’s West Seattle route will be running its extended sailing schedules for this Thursday’s Seahawks game on August 30 and for Saturday’s Huskies game on September 1. In addition to the final scheduled departure at downtown Seattle’s Pier 50 at 10:30 pm, we will run one additional departure from Pier 50 at 11:00 pm each night. The final two departures from Seacrest Park those nights will be at 10:45 pm and 11:10 pm.
(TOPLINE: 20+ indicted in federal oxycodone drug-ring investigation, including 1 arrested in West Seattle)
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
FIRST REPORT, 12:58 PM: We’re at FBI headquarters in the heart of downtown, where agencies and departments including the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Seattle Police are about to brief the media on the raids/searches this morning at locations including the one on which we reported (5400 block of 30th SW). We’ve just been handing documents that say more than 20 people were arrested in connection with a “significant narcotics trafficking ring” involving “distributing thousands of oxycodone pills in the Seattle area.” More to come.
1:03 PM UPDATE: The briefing has begun. 24 arrests executed this morning by 100 law enforcement officers, we’re being told. Operation was code-named “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse“; the alleged ringleader’s name is Herman. Speaking first with details: US Attorney Jenny Durkan:
She calls this “a tremendous investigation over a period of years. We are focused heavily on ending prescription drug abuse … As you know, it’s a growing epidemic in America … Last year, it was estimated the deaths … exceeded the deaths for motor vehicles.” She says there’s a direct “nexus” between drug dealing and violent crime, and lauds the joint efforts of SPD and FBI.
SPD’s Deputy Chief Nick Metz (above) is speaking now (1:06 pm) – he says “it’s no secret that in past six-plus months, we’ve seen an uptick in violence …”and he believes this will affect that. Now FBI special agent in charge Dean says that 16 locations were searched in our state and California in relation to this case. 19 people were indicted, he says. He says that agents came here from other states including Utah and Oregon to help, as well as other partners around the region. The investigation dates back to February 2010, he says. He says one particular gang was the focus of the investigation, and stresses again the partnership between law-enforcement agencies. “We’re going to continue our efforts to disrupt violent crime.”
1:10 PM: The operation is being called “unprecedented” in its scope and scale. “I think today’s efforts have made the region a little safer.” After just a few minutes, the news conference is being opened to questions. First question involves investigative techniques, on which they don’t want to specialize; electronic surveillance is mentioned.
Second question – “We took the head dog out,” says FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Steven Dean (above), responding to the role of Herman Roche, the first person whose indictment has been publicized. Roche is 43 years old and described in documents as a Kent resident. He says the investigation “disrupted” the organization and put most of its members in custody. “We think it’s going to make a dent.” Durkan says, “These operations rely on everything from (street cop undercover buys) to sophisticated surveillance … What the bad guys need to know out there is that state and federal authorities are going to cooperate .. We have a wide array of tools; we will use them all to stop crime in this community.” She says they wanted to make sure they “had the entire organization” so that when “we took it down, we knew what we were doing.” She talks about the organization members’ trips to California to get thousands of pills at a time. She says they seized 20 firearms, $40,000, and more that they are still inventorizing. “The next step is that all of these people have to make their appearance in federal court.”
1:15 PM: The news conference is wrapping up. Some of the suspects will be on the 2:30 pm court calendar. And the FBI spokesperson will tell us afterward about specific locations and how they figured into it.
1:29 PM UPDATE: 33 year old Brian M. Davis is identified as the person arrested at the home on 5400 block of 30th SW this morning. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, authorities say. He was the only person arrested in West Seattle, according to the FBI, and the 30th SW house is the only WS location involved. What exactly was seized there – and what role that location played – won’t be known, says the FBI, until the search warrant returns are made public, probably in a week or so. The closest arrest to West Seattle, besides Davis, was that of 45-year-old Thomas D. Lee, arrested in the 6100 block of 4th Avenue S (a WSB Facebook commenter mentioned that location). They will be among those making a court appearance in about an hour. Seattle Police also confirm that Davis was the victim in a shooting elsewhere in the city a month ago.
2:44 PM UPDATE: Back at HQ now and will add video of the briefing plus a few more photos – unlike some briefings of similar magnitude, there was no “show and tell” component of seized items, in case you wondered. (added – here’s our video – starting with an overview by FBI Special Agent in Charge Laura Laughlin)
Also, if you’d like to read the full news release, which lists everyone charged, as well as all the participating agencies, it’s after the jump:
Thanks to Kathy for sharing the photo of the work that’s under way today at Seacrest Pier and Boathouse. In case you missed it, here’s what it’s all about; the Parks Department warned last week that the Seacrest lot would be closed till mid-afternoon today (2:30 or so) because the crane was needed to replace the pier ladder.
(Duwamish Head/”Anchor Park” photo by Long Bach Nguyen; click image for larger view)
Mayor Mike McGinn is back in West Seattle for another Town Hall meeting tonight, and that’s one of the highlights from the WSB West Seattle Events Calendar …
TONIGHT’S TRAFFIC ALERT: From our day-by-day/night-by-night list, southbound 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed 9 pm-5 am, and 1st Avenue South northbound at (surface) S. Spokane St. will be closed 10 pm-5 am.
SEACREST PARKING LOT CLOSURE: As reported here last week, the lot at Seacrest is scheduled to be off-limits to parking until mid-afternoon while some dock work is under way.
NOT ENROLLED YET? Not in West Seattle, but all families who still need to enroll in Seattle Public Schools are invited to a fair – complete with giveaways – at district HQ in SODO, starting at 11 this morning – details here.
MAYOR’S TOWN HALL, PLUS COMMUNITY INFO FAIR: It’s not just a chance to tell the mayor what’s on your mind – it’s a chance to find out about local organizations (including ours), starting with a community info fair at 5:30 pm, then a Polynesian-dance performance at 6:30, and the mayor at the mike at 6:40 pm, all happening at Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle). More info in our Monday night preview.
TRIVIA THAT ROCKS: Tuesday night is Trivia That Rocks night every week at Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor), 8 pm.
Even more on the calendar!
FIRST REPORT, 8:08 AM: Thanks to everyone who texted and e-mailed to report federal agents searching a hillside home between High Point and Camp Long early this morning. At the scene, we saw FBI agents with unmarked vehicles, and a vehicle marked as belonging to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They wouldn’t comment, referring us to local FBI headquarters; we just talked with Ayn Sandalo Dietrich in FBI public affairs, and she could only tell us that it’s part of an operation at “multiple locations,” but they’ll have more to say later. We also checked with Seattle Police, where Det. Mark Jamieson said the same thing.
10:35 AM UPDATE: The FBI has announced a multi-agency media briefing at 1 pm today – we’ll be there. They’re describing what happened this morning as a “Seattle Safe Streets Task Force operation.” The task force is described on this page as working “to identify, disrupt, and dismantle existing and emerging violent criminal enterprises and gangs in King County, as well as other individuals and groups whose criminal activity negatively impacts the Puget Sound area.”
NOTE: Our story on the briefing – and what we’ve found out about the suspect arrested in West Seattle – is here.
The 300-plus ninth graders entering Chief Sealth International High School will have the campus all to themselves for the first half of the first day of school a week from tomorrow – well, except for their 70 or so mentors. Those students are who you see in our photos – all juniors or seniors, who will be back on campus today for their second day of training for the mentoring program known as Link Crew, which Sealth is using this year for the first time.
Last year, we covered Link Crew’s West Seattle High School debut; this year, it’s debuting at Sealth with the help of a grant the school obtained. That included covering the costs of training for the faculty who are in turn training the Link Crew mentors, who activities coordinator Sam Reed explains were chosen from about 120 applicants. This week, they’re spending two days practicing the sort of team-building exercises they’ll go through next week with the incoming Class of 2016:
As Reed put it, these students have been leading by example – and now, they will be leading by coaching. We talked with the Sealth senior who is serving as the group’s president, Frank Wenn (right). He told WSB that he applied to “help out” and to be “more involved” with what’s going on at school (not that he was exactly disengaged previously, as a football player [right tackle], baseball-team member, and International Baccalaureate program student). What message will he have for the freshmen next week? we asked. Frank said he’ll tell them not to panic about suddenly being in high school: “You’re not going to feel isolated. Everyone here is so friendly – it’s easy to make friends.” Frank and his dozens of fellow Link Crew mentors are working with five faculty members – along with Reed, they are Dean of Students Charlene Grisim, social worker Carrie Syvertsen, and teachers Kim Dinh and Luke Azinger. And even after that all-important first day of school on September 5th, the mentors will be touchstones for the freshmen throughout the year; maybe, a few years later, some of them will even sign up to be Link Crew leaders themselves.