West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
No one disputes that longtime Gatewood resident Lovett “Cid” Chambers fired the shots that killed recent West Seattle arrival (Michael) Travis Hood by Morgan Junction Park on January 21, 2012.
The question to be settled is why – and whether he is guilty of murder.
After six weeks of motions and jury selection, the heart of Chambers’ trial began this afternoon in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle. Jury selection concluded before lunch; afterward, prosecution and defense lawyers presented their opening statements.
Their styles and stories contrasted dramatically.
First, the basic backstory as reported here. The incident unfolded – with much initial confusion resulting – at two locations that night.
That’s the red pickup truck in which Hood’s friend Jamie Vause drove him to the Providence Mount St. Vincent retirement/rehab center, believing it was a hospital. That’s where emergency responders first learned someone had been shot – but the shooting itself took place more than a mile southwest:
As reported in WSB as-it-happened coverage that night, we also had received reports of gunshots heard in Morgan Junction, and police quickly converged there to look for evidence. Hours later, in the early morning, SPD confirmed Chambers’ arrest, and family members confirmed Hood’s death. Four days after the shooting, Chambers was charged with first-degree murder (last August, that was reduced to second-degree).
No clear story emerged of what preceded the gunfire. And today in court, two very different versions were told.
Since Safeway has three stores in West Seattle, more than any other grocery chain, this might be of interest: The 1,300+-store chain announced today that it’s in talks with a potential buyer. Here’s one of the more thorough stories we’ve seen so far, published close to Safeway’s Bay Area headquarters. Safeway didn’t identify the prospective buyer, and no official deal has been announced yet, but industry observers are reported to believe it’s a private-equity firm. The 28th/Roxbury Safeway is the only local one for which the company owns the land, six acres worth; its Jefferson Square store is on a leased site, and it leases the land its Admiral store is on, after selling the site to American Realty Advisors one year after building the big new store.
(Click image for larger view – close enough to see the snow-covered trees!)
Down to the final four weeks of winter, and the Olympic Mountains finally have a truly wintry amount of snow! Thanks to Chris Frankovich for capturing this morning’s fully frosted view!
Thanks to Greta for mentioning this in a comment on the daily traffic roundup – there’s a multi-car crash on southbound 99 before the West Seattle Bridge exit. So if you haven’t left yet, consider going another way TFN.
7:14 PM UPDATE: SDOT says the crash is cleared.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Repeat offender Ryan Cox is back in jail this afternoon, hours after his case came up at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting – on a night when the Seattle Mental Health Court was a long-planned topic of discussion.
During the discussion of Cox’s case, we discovered a warrant had been out for his arrest for two weeks, a warrant for violation of probation – same reason he had been taken in (and released after a day) last month. This time, the notation on the publicly viewable Municipal Court docket described him as “not a good candidate for probation” and labeled the warrant as “do not release.” (Photo at right is from 2009, distributed by police the first time Cox was being sought for vandalism.)
The docket also mentioned presiding Municipal Court Judge Kimi Kondo, who happened to be last night’s guest speaker.
Here’s how last night unfolded, including the discussion of the Mental Health Court in general, as well as Cox’s case.
(PHOTO BY KEN LAMBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES – republished by WSB with permission)
1:41 PM: We are at the King County Courthouse, in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle, where – after a month and a half of motions and jury selection – opening statements are about to begin in the trial of 69-year-old Lovett Chambers. He is the Gatewood man charged with second-degree murder in the January 2012 shooting death of 35-year-old Travis Hood alongside Morgan Junction Park. By all accounts, Chambers and Hood did not know each other; all they had in common is that both had been in a nearby bar moments before the shooting. We’ve read hundreds and hundreds of pages of court documents in the case in the past two years; they indicate that Chambers will contend self-defense, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder from the defendant’s experiences in prison and with police decades earlier. Under another name, he had a record, but nothing for the past 20-plus years while he lived and worked in West Seattle. About a dozen people are here in the gallery, watching the lawyers prepare. Depending on how it goes, we’ll likely add some updates here during the afternoon, in addition to more detailed coverage after proceedings are done for the day.
3:56 PM UPDATE: Court has recessed for the day, after both sides presented their opening statements, and jurors will hear from the first witness tomorrow morning. We have also added a photo, courtesy of our partners at The Seattle Times, who are also covering the trial; it was taken in the courtroom hallway at midday, showing Chambers at right with a deputy at left. We will publish a separate story later today with details of the proceedings.
12:52 PM: If you’ve seen/heard the big fire response, it’s for a house in the 2700 block of SW Kenyon (map), but most of the units have just been canceled. We’re checking it out.
12:58 PM UPDATE: Described on the scanner as a mattress fire.
1:16 PM UPDATE: Added photo. Fire’s out, no major damage, no injuries reported.
We start this West Seattle Crime Watch report with toplines from the crime-trends update presented at last night’s WS Crime Prevention Council meeting by new precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske (right): Residential and nonresidential burglaries are below average this past month, he said, attributing that to arrests of juvenile-burglary suspects as well as the Anti-Crime Team’s work. Car prowls “have been low the past four months.” But auto thefts are up, “and that’s the one category where we’re up, and up pretty significantly,” he said. However, he said, two “very active auto thieves” who have been in custody since January 28th are blamed for much of the month’s spike – he says it’s dropped since they were arrested. Asked about violent crimes, “there’s nothing that really strikes me” as unusual, he said. He was asked about but did not have updates on West Seattle’s two unsolved 2013 murders.
(Most of the rest of the WSCPC meeting dealt with the ongoing Ryan Cox case and what turned out to be the synergistic pre-scheduled presentation about the city’s Mental Health Court – that’s all coming up in a separate story.)
Now, read on for our most recent reader reports – including prowlers, suspicious behavior at a playground, a stolen car found by a WSB reader, and a stolen truck reported just over the city-limit line in White Center (could turn up here, so we’ll publish those reports when we get them):
John Loftus shared the Tuesday photo of a rare sight – a surf scoter on the sand at Alki. John writes, “Surf Scoters are a diving sea duck that winters in small flocks off our shores. Thousands were killed in a San Francisco Bay oil spill a few years ago and, although they are not endangered, scientists say their numbers have declined 50 to 70% over the past 40 years. While it’s not at all unusual to see Surf Scoters a hundred yards or so out on the water, this is the first time in 20 years at Alki that I’ve ever seen one standing on the shore. I hope he hadn’t encountered an oil slick. This is another good reason why otherwise law-abiding Seattleites should not run their dogs on the beach.” Speaking of wildlife:
LIVE CHAT RE: SICK ‘STARFISH’: The mysterious disease that’s been killing off sea stars in our area and many others, mostly on the West Coast, will be discussed in a live chat at noon today, including West Seattle’s “Diver Laura” James. Details here, including the chat link.
Some of what else is on the calendar:
PUBLIC SAFETY, CIVIL RIGHTS, TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE: 2 pm, this Seattle City Council committee’s agenda includes another vote related to federal Homeland Security grant money – no cameras mentioned this time, but you can read the documentation for yourself via the agenda. (City Hall, 4th/James downtown; live via Seattle Channel)
TALKING TUNNEL TOLLING: The advisory committee that’s working on recommendations for tolling the Highway 99 tunnel meets at 3 pm today at the Puget Sound Regional Council offices in Pioneer Square. Here’s the agenda; most recently, they were looking at a toll around $1-$1.25. (1011 Western, Suite 500)
CASSIS OPENS: 4 pm, first night at West Seattle’s newest restaurant, a French bistro on Alki. Here’s our Tuesday night preview. (2820 Alki SW)
DELRIDGE NEIGHBORHOODS DISTRICT COUNCIL: Live or work in eastern West Seattle? Come see what reps from local groups/organizations are talking about. 7 pm at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, with agenda highlights as follows:
7:00 p.m. Introductions; announcements; approve previous meeting summary – All
7:10 p.m. Volunteers for CNC committee on development/land use – Cindi Barker, Morgan Community Association
7:25 p.m. Introduction and Q&A with Captain Steve Wilske, Seattle Police Department
7:55 p.m. Seattle reLeaf /Tree Ambassadors – Katie Gibbons, Seattle Public Utilities
8:05 p.m. Large Projects Fund – Department of Neighborhoods
8:10 p.m. City Neighborhood Council report/other DNDC business items:
-Neighborhood Park and Street Fund applications
-March annual DNDC meeting
-Gathering of Neighbors/Delridge Day 2014
(4408 Delridge Way SW, room 106)
SEATTLE CLASSIC GUITAR SOCIETY OPEN-MICROPHONE NIGHT: 7-9 pm at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), an open-microphone event for guitarists of all skill levels – details in our calendar listing. (5612 California SW)
COMEDY NIGHT AT FEEDBACK LOUNGE: West Seattle’s Mona Concepcion hosts the latest monthly laughfest, starring Cris Rodriguez and featuring “a killer lineup of the city’s top comedians.” Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor), 8 pm, free. (6451 California SW)
LOTS MORE FOR TODAY AND TONIGHT … on the calendar (and days/nights/weeks beyond, too) – see it all here!
Seventy-two years ago today, on February 19th, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of more than 110,000 people in Western states, including ours, because they were from Japan or of Japanese ancestry. Before mid-winter break, students from Gatewood Elementary traveled to the historic site on Bainbridge Island formally known as the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial to learn about this. Teacher Darren Radu shared their report and photos:
We are students of Team Mt. Si at Gatewood Elementary. Over the past three months, we have been studying Japanese Internment during World War II. Did you know that as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many people were suspicious of perfectly innocent Japanese and Japanese Americans, who were then forced to move to internment camps? The camps were terrible places (many cabins were horse and cow stables!) for people to live and the Japanese did not have a choice about moving. Internment affected many residents and families from the Seattle area.
We took a field trip with our teachers Ms. Moran, Ms. Ott, and Mr. Radu to Bainbridge Island to visit the Japanese Internment Memorial. We visited the actual beach where many local Japanese and Japanese Americans boarded ferries that took them to camps. The Memorial helped us to experience what it was like to be in their shoes.
We also met our friend and amazing local artist, Steve Gardner, who showed us some of the ceramic sculptures he created for the memorial.
His work illustrates the lives of Bainbridge Japanese people before, during, and after internment.
We also worked with our teacher Colleen Moran to take a stand on the events of World War II by writing persuasive essays. It was important for us to learn about Japanese Internment because it helped us to learn from the past and to avoid making the same mistakes. We hope that other people will take the time to visit the Internment Memorial and continue to fight for justice, too!
The Students of Team Mt. Si
This HistoryLink.org page shows how what was termed an “evacuation” unfolded in Seattle starting two months after President Roosevelt’s order.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR METRO FARE PROPOSALS: As noted in this spot yesterday, the County Council had Metro’s proposed fare changes – a 25-cent increase next year in the general fare, along with a 50-cent ACCESS increase and creation of a “low-income fare” – on its Tuesday agenda. Councilmembers did not vote, though. Our area’s Councilmember Joe McDermott says that’s expected to happen next Monday (February 24th), which is also when the council, meeting as the Transportation Benefit District board, is expected to vote on sending the Metro-money measure (car-tab fee, sales-tax increase) to voters for an April 22nd election. If the vote does not happen then, he says, a supermajority would be needed for approval, instead of a simple majority.
COMMUTE UPDATES … when there’s news. You can reach us with info via text/voice at 206-293-6302 – but not if/while you’re driving! It can wait until you get to where you’re going.
5:50 PM: Southbound 99 multi-car crash just north of the West Seattle Bridge.
A memorial service is planned this Saturday for Charles David Pierce, who died last week at age 54. Here’s the remembrance his loved ones are sharing:
Charles David Pierce died Tuesday, February 11, 2014. David resided at Providence Mount St. Vincent for the last thirteen years and died peacefully in his sleep.
For the last 36 years David has lived as a quadriplegic, as a result of a car accident at the age of 17. David graduated from Chief Sealth High School in 1980. David will be remembered for his strength of character, his sense of humor. and kind heart. David will be missed by all who knew him and cared for him.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, February 22, 2014, 9:30-12:00, at Providence Mount Saint Vincent Chapel, 3rd floor, 4831 35th Ave. SW.
(WSB publishes obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)