West Seattle Crime Watch: Man grabs girl @ Westwood Village; safety volunteers needed

(UPDATED 2:11 pm with letter sent home by Denny/Sealth prinicipals)

Just in, from Seattle Police:

Police are investigating after a 15-year-old girl was grabbed while walking through Westwood Village Tuesday morning.

The girl told officers she was walking to school at 6:30 AM when a man approached her and asked where he could buy a phone charger. She answered his question and made her way to a nearby coffee shop. The girl said that when she exited the cafe, the man continued to follow her, at one point wrapping both of his arms around her. The girl broke free and ran the rest of the way to Denny International Middle School, where she reported the incident to administrators.

The victim described the man as in his early 30’s, black, wearing a black hoodie and sweat pants. If you have any information in this case please call 911 and speak with an officer.

This is the first walking-to/from-school incident reported against a Denny or Sealth student in more than a month – last one in our archives was in early March.

Reminder that, as mentioned earlier, the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets tonight, so if you have questions/concerns about this or anything else recently in WS, come hear from and talk to police, 7 pm @ the precinct (Delridge/Webster).

ADDED 2:11 PM: We asked Denny principal Jeff Clark to please share the letter that we expected would be sent home to parents. Here it is (it’s to be sent to Sealth families too) – please note that they still need volunteers for the safety effort we spotlighted here last month:

April 21, 2015
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,

We want to share with you information right away regarding an incident that was reported this morning involving one of our scholars on her way to school.

At approximately 6:20 am an eighth-grade female scholar was followed around Westwood Village by a man who persistently asked her questions. He was described as an East African man in his early 30’s, thin built with short curly hair and a goatee, who spoke with an accent. He continued to follow her through the parking lot and on the path from Westwood through the Southwest Athletic Center toward our campus. When she approached Thistle, he grabbed her. She broke free from his grasp and ran to school and reported the incident to school staff right away. Denny Staff notified the family and the Seattle Police Department, who are actively investigating.

The safety of our scholars is our top priority. We are continuing to coordinate with the SW Precinct Captain to discuss the safety and their increased policing efforts. We will continue to collaborate with the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Public Schools Safety and Security to help monitor the surrounding area. As a part of these efforts, we are recruiting a team of volunteers to be trained and posted around the neighborhood to serve as part of a “block watch” system as our scholars come to and from school. If you are interested in helping with this, please contact Jeff Clark at jclark@seattleschools.org or 206-252-9000.

You can help your children stay safe by talking to them about personal safety. Tips to discuss are:
• Walking in pairs or groups and being aware of their surroundings at all times.
• Leaving for school at times where there are high levels of pedestrian traffic.
• Immediately reporting anything suspicious to trusted adults (school staff and family members).
• Keep earbuds off and expensive phones out of sight.

More tips and information can be found on the Seattle Police Department website: http://www.seattle.gov/police/prevention/child/default.htm.

21 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Man grabs girl @ Westwood Village; safety volunteers needed"

  • 617PSC April 21, 2015 (12:09 pm)

    Hope she is okay. Hard to believe no one saw anything at 0630 am. Hoping this distrubed individual is quickly caught. Head on a swivel folks, stay safe.

  • LyndaB April 21, 2015 (12:39 pm)

    How scary! I’m glad she is safe now.

  • SomeGuy April 21, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    There HAVE to be functioning cameras at Westwood, right? Hoping this guy was caught on tape.

  • Ray April 21, 2015 (2:29 pm)

    And Again with something creepy and potentially harmful occurring at Westwood Village.

    The city or the shopping center need to really step up on the security. Maybe it is time citizens from the community start contacting the evening news media and try to get them to shine a light on this problem. WSB should not be the only media covering this….

  • ParentofTwo April 21, 2015 (2:34 pm)

    Very scary. Glad she is okay. Why was she headed to school so early? Doesn’t Denny start at 8:30? There really aren’t many cameras at Westwood; need to have more though I don’t know if the management would have the staff to monitor them.

  • ddh April 21, 2015 (4:24 pm)

    my friend was followed down Morgan St and continued on Caifirnia ave by a black man on a bicycle wearing a hoodie and sunglasses yesterday around 12p. She ask if he was following her he said no but he went around the corner she hid and watched and he came Back. Very scary. I told her to call and report him

  • West Seattle Hipster April 21, 2015 (5:30 pm)

    Good work by the victim to escape before anything worse happened. Hopefully the perp will be caught.


    Kudos to WSB for having the journalistic integrity to publish a description of the suspect. KOMO’s reporter on the 5pm newscast reported that there was only ” a general description” of the suspect. I am sure they had access to the same info as the WSB, and for whatever reason omitted certain details.

    • WSB April 21, 2015 (6:17 pm)

      We had two levels of description, one from the SPD Blotter post, and the more-detailed one in the letter from Denny/Sealth. I don’t know if the regional-media thought to request the latter … I sent a note to Denny principal Jeff Clark immediately after publishing the first round of info. (I also requested the detailed report from SPD but it wasn’t available yet.) – TR

  • Denny Parent April 21, 2015 (6:55 pm)

    If this discourages parents from sending their kids to Denny…it shouldn’t. Many of these incidents (related to Demny students) have happened in the past few months. Denny principal addresses incident school wide via pa announcement. Message my 6th grade student has received: safety, safety, safety! Don’t be fooled…these incidents happen in ALL areas!!!

  • evergreen April 21, 2015 (9:35 pm)

    Kids shouldn’t be walking to school period until safety is dramatically improved.

    • WSB April 21, 2015 (9:48 pm)

      If *anyone* reading this is able to volunteer … please do.

  • LivesInWS April 21, 2015 (9:58 pm)

    Safety tips should include Take a Self-Defense Class!

  • Laura April 21, 2015 (10:03 pm)

    Seems the students need to walk with a friend if possible and stay away from the athletic field when walking alone. Just seems better to stay in the neighborhood so you have access to a house. Better than being isolated where you have no access to a door to bang on.

  • Heidi A April 21, 2015 (10:39 pm)

    You’re absolutely right, Denny Parent. Although my kids are still in elementary school, no one should dismiss this as a Denny specific issue. It could just as easily happen anywhere. A young man (maybe 16-18 yo) cornered me between my parked car and his next to it in the admiral Safeway parking lot yesterday around 7 pm after I had buckled my kids in. I was parked in the spaces facing the shrubs in the north end. He made some sexually explicit comments but backed off when I told him to get out of the way. I shudder to think of what he might have been able to do to a young girl (such as anyone attending nearby Madison). I hope kids in all of our schools are getting the safety message. I know I will not be parking near the shrubs in the north end again (no way out if someone does walk up to you between cars).

  • evergreen April 21, 2015 (10:55 pm)

    I just did a random websearch and found security/body guard companies in Seattle that drive kids to/from school. It is probably expensive, but 4 families could split the cost for 4 kids. Or perhaps carpool. I think parents need to organize more heavily in order to provide transportation for their kids to/from school. We need to talk to one another, form community groups, email, organize.

  • Jason F. April 22, 2015 (4:52 pm)

    SPD should really take a ride down 35th and pick out the hot spots like around the parole office off Morgan.

  • Jason F. April 22, 2015 (5:36 pm)

    This isn’t necessarily special for this area, there are these people all over Seattle, but it helps to be aware…http://www.seattle.gov/police/crime/sexoffender_notice.htm

  • Thomas M. April 23, 2015 (5:34 pm)

    The only security I ever saw there looked like he couldn’t fight his way out of a wet kleenex. Time to get some REAL goons in there.

  • Barb April 26, 2015 (4:39 am)

    There’s a parole office off Morgan??? Where? Is there a sign that indicates what it is?

  • 617BOS April 27, 2015 (2:56 pm)

    Parole Office is located on the West side of 35th Ave…north of the UHaul. Can’t miss the black-walled generic Chevy sedans out front. Place looks like a dump.

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