West Seattle Crime Watch: Grabbed while running

Reader report, just received this afternoon:

I was out for a run early this morning and at around 6:15 AM a man ran up behind me really fast and grabbed my butt with both his hands. When I started to turn around he ran away in the opposite direction. I never saw his face but he was about 5’9 to 5’10 and was wearing a dark blue hoodie with the hood up and black jeans. This happened as I was running north on 44th Ave SW right before the Charlestown Ave SW intersection. I just want to get the word out to other women who may be out running or walking in the early morning.

This is the first incident of this type we recall hearing about in some time.

SIDE NOTES: First, before you ask: Yes, the man convicted in similar attacks (and more) early this decade is still in prison.

Second: The description, scant as it is, is reminiscent of this 2013 incident south of The Junction which, to our knowledge, has never been solved.

26 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Grabbed while running"

  • Vanessa September 1, 2016 (4:34 pm)

    This is disgusting and frightful. The rest of what I am thinking cannot be printed here.

  • Oakley34 September 1, 2016 (4:35 pm)

    I hope this was reported to police.

    • WSB September 1, 2016 (8:05 pm)

      I asked that on a followup, since I couldn’t find an incident number on the SPD log. The victim told me she had been trying to reach SPD via the non-emergency line throughout the day and continuing to get “high volume of calls, try back later if this isn’t an emergency” recordings. Given the dire nature of what happened – this is a sexual assault, really, and it seems like something that should be on SPD’s radar as soon as possible – I suggested she escalate it to a 911 call, and I believe that has since happened. – TR

      • Pops September 1, 2016 (8:23 pm)

        That high volume of calls recording happens whenever I call the non emergency number, no matter what time.  I filed a ticket about it and heard from a call center supervisor who basically said they are hiring new call takers. That was almost a year ago. Turnover must be high or ??? They also say the system is getting upgrade as a reason for wait times. Current wait times are unacceptable. 

        • Jon September 2, 2016 (2:47 pm)

          People shouldn’t be afraid of using 911. The “Non-Emergency Number” isn’t just for reporting something when you’re safe; it’s primarily there for asking questions (on impounds, permits, et cetera), or reporting extremely low-priority, after-the-fact, nonviolent crimes (someone trespassed and left litter all over your property).

          911 should absolutely be used in most other cases where people feel the need to waste their time on the non-emergency line. If you see a bar fight, call 911; if someone tries to grab you but gets away, call 911; if someone is walking around threatening people, call 911; if someone looks like they’re about to break into a car, call 911; a traffic accident where nobody is hurt — you still call 911 and just tell them no injuries.

          Calls get prioritized at the station. So if you’re calling 911 to report something but someone else is in greater need, the other call gets the response first.

  • A September 1, 2016 (6:01 pm)

    Similar has happened to my husband. He’s short and slight, and wears running tights, and people assume him to be a woman. 

  • Jtm September 1, 2016 (7:07 pm)

    A similar looking man yelled at me while I was running the night before about 3 blocks away (Cali & Hinds). He did NOT touch me as I was about 5 yards away but he yelled something and then went to the corner to watch me run down the block. I’m wondering if he lives close.

  • AMD September 1, 2016 (8:24 pm)

    SPD arrested a man downtown this evening for another groping incident–here’s hoping it’s the same guy and he’s off the street.

    • AMD September 1, 2016 (8:27 pm)

      Commented too soon.  Read the date wrong.  Here’s hoping this guy can be caught soon as well.  You can report non-emergencies via an online form if you’re having trouble getting through on the phone, I think.  But I agree with the comment above that this seems 911-worthy.

  • Seattlite September 1, 2016 (8:41 pm)

    Yes, the victim needs to call 911.  She was assaulted by a stranger.  SPD needs to get whatever information she has on the assault.  This is very scary.

  • K. Luckey September 1, 2016 (9:00 pm)

    Thank you so much to the women who reported this to the blog. I run early in the morning near this area so I am grateful that I now know to be on alert and avoid the general vicinity.  

  • Neighbor September 1, 2016 (10:05 pm)

    It’s a shame that women have to restrict themselves by location or time. Maybe we should carry mace. A similar thing happened to me downtown except he tried to grab my breast but ended up hitting me hard and then ran off. There were lots of people around but no one stopped and I was so infuriated I considered giving the coward perv a chase but he took off as fast as he could through the crowd. 

    • Jon September 2, 2016 (12:07 pm)

      You would be better off with a personal defense “Tac(tical) Torch” with a crenelated “strike bezel”. They often ship with stobe functions and are generally very durable. I can’t stress the fact that everyone should be carrying a quality light.

      For that, I would look at the Klarus XT11S (~$80) or an Elzetta (~$200; much more durable but not rechargeable). The first one is on Amazon, the latter is through the manufacturer’s site (small, American company).

      I would recommend a light with a paddle switch and not a turn knob or complicated controls.

      Pepper spray is actually not that great if there’s a breeze or if you’re in a tight space; most people end up contaminating themselves (you need to train yourself to cover your face with an “oven mitt” hand seal, covering your nose and mouth).

      The other alternative is pepper gel; which is much better to use in wind or around others, but requires that you be extremely accurate.

      There’s also concealed carry. For a woman, I would recommend appendix carry and a Glock 43 or 42 (and lots of redundant training). 

      “Non-lethal” weapons – such as tasers – don’t work very well, require more training than a gun, and cost about twice as much to maintain. If someone is wearing anything besides a thin shirt, you’re not going to be doing anything to them in an attack.

      It’s your safety, you decide what you’re comfortable with and go from there. Whatever you decide, train and always have your gear in the same place.

      Stay safe.

  • California September 1, 2016 (10:43 pm)

    I have no idea if this is related, but there’s been a guy hanging out in the alley on Charlestown between California and 44th.  I don’t think that he’s homeless, he strikes me as a creeper. He’s been out there fairly late in the evening and meets the description from the woman who was assaulted (as do many people, of course).  I’ve always kind of chuckled about Seattle not really having any “bad” neighborhoods compared to other large cities I’ve lived in, but I have definitely noticed an uptick in what I perceive to be untreated mentally ill in the last few years, and I’m guessing this guy fits in that category based on the behavior I’ve observed.  I just wanted to post this as you may want to avoid this alley in the evenings if alone and on foot.

    • Pops September 1, 2016 (11:00 pm)

      Thanks for the heads up.

  • Pops September 1, 2016 (10:58 pm)

    I agree this is a 911 worthy crime. Not blaming the victim for her decision.  If she is reading this, I hope you are ok. What happened to you is unacceptable. Peace.

  • Heidi A September 1, 2016 (11:47 pm)

    If you’re running alone, spend a few bucks for a personal alarm. They’re small and you can set it off to scare someone off. Under $20 on Amazon. 

    • Jon September 2, 2016 (2:42 pm)

      Heidi, I’ve used the  so-called “rape alarm / grenade” devices and have found that – while piercingly loud – they are not shatterproof and might not completely dissuade an attacker. In fact, most of them just sound like obnoxious car alarms and will likely just anger nearby neighbors rather than causing them to come to your aid. Screaming would probably yield better results as it would draw more attention from potential onlookers (and is a proven method for fighting off assailants).

      As such, I would not rely entirely on such a cheap and poorly designed device and would only recommend that someone carry something like that as an auxiliary item in their “EDC” (everyday carry) system. Though, what’s more likely: you will likely accidentally pull the keychain pin out at the wrong moment and decide to never carry it again.

      Which brings us to our primary point: if you’re going to consider carrying anything for self-defense (sprays, gels, lights, a gun), you always need to be carrying your self-defense gear with you and have it readily accessible on your body. So many women end up buying something like pepper spray, only to have it sitting at the bottom of your purse; which doesn’t do you any good if someone grabs you or your purse.

      It’s generally recommended that you carry non-offending self-defense items in your hands as you walk to your car, jog, or find yourself in any situation where you could potentially need it. There are pepper spray / gel canisters which athletic hand straps; you might also want to consider a “belly band” mounting solution (similar to a belt, not as unfashionable as a fanny pack).

      As I’ve mentioned in reply to another commenter: one overlooked (and in my opinion, necessary) piece of equipment nobody should be without is a durable, military-grade flashlight (or “tac torch”). The models I’ve recommended are the Klarus XT11S (~$80 on Amazon; small, rechargeable via Micro USB, meant for self-defense) and any of Elzetta’s lights (~$135-230 on the manufacturer’s site; non-rechargeable but basically indestructible; comes in various sizes and made in the USA). Both are waterproof and military-grade for shock resistance (Elzetta can survive the apocalypse, honestly); so if you drop either one, they’re going to still work.

      Many of these lights also come with disorienting strobe functions and the light is so bright that it will blind someone long enough for you to be able to run. And if that doesn’t work, the “crenelated strike bezels” are meant for blunt-force impact and will allow you to quickly hit pressure points on your attacker’s body. Plus, you should have a light for crossing intersections when it’s dark.

      Bottom line: a quality self-defense flashlight is more valuable and effective than most other self-defense products (better than alarms, pepper spray, et cetera). You don’t have to choose those brands (I picked the best-bang-for-your-buck model and a if-money-is-no-concern example, here), but I would make sure the controls are simple (I prefer rear-mounted paddles / tailcap buttons), that it’s durable, and meant to be used as a self-defense tool. You may be shocked to spend more than $20 for a flashlight, but a quality product will last for years and may actually end up saving your life.

      Basically, don’t buy some junk light at Fred Meyer for $20-40. Some other brands to research: Fenix, Surefire, LED Lenser.

      I hope that helped. Stay safe.

  • Becky Peil September 2, 2016 (7:27 am)

    I carry pepper spray and a Mag light flashlight, My next purchase is going to be an air horn. (like the boaters use.) Those things are super loud! :-)


  • Paul Balcerak September 2, 2016 (8:43 am)

    Ugh. TF is wrong with people?

    I’m up that way sometimes in the morning. I’ll keep an eye out and comment back here if I see anything. Hope this guy gets caught soon.   

  • Katherine September 2, 2016 (2:20 pm)

    Get one of these.  You carry it like you would a set of keys with the claws through your fingers.  No buttons, just swipe the person.  Since it’s held inside your fist it can’t easily be taken away and if you get skin it will collect a dna sample.


  • Jeannie September 2, 2016 (3:38 pm)

    Jon, thanks for your advice. You seem very knowledgeable. May I ask if you are in law enforcement?

  • LivesInWS September 3, 2016 (7:56 pm)

    A fist is always with you, and adds no weight and needs no batteries. Learn basic self-defense: punches, kicks, and hold breaks. Sounds like this assailant run off too fast to get his ugly nose punched though.

  • WGA September 4, 2016 (2:08 pm)


     Your link the the PCC-site design review takes us to this page!

    • WSB September 4, 2016 (2:33 pm)


  • cjac September 19, 2016 (11:53 am)

    I always run with my dogs. If you dont have one, consider offering to take a neighbor’s. The dog will love it.

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