FOLLOWUP: Ryan Cox charged with second-degree assault in Gatewood stabbing

(August 8th WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)

39-year-old Ryan Cox has just been charged with second-degree assault, with a deadly weapon, in last Tuesday night’s Gatewood stabbing attack. And Cox’s bail has been set at $150,000.

The 40-year-old victim remains in the hospital, according to a comment from a family friend, recovering from multiple stab wounds. Cox also was taken to Harborview after the attack last Tuesday night, with what police say was a self-inflicted stab wound.

According to charging documents, “the defendant is unemployed, homeless, and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia but does not take medication. He has been booked 28 times since 1997 and has had 26 warrants issued for his arrest.” The documents also include a more-detailed police-provided narrative that notes “Cox is a known transient, living in West Seattle, not only to the SPD officers that work in the Southwest Precinct, but to the citizens that live in the area.” That’s dated back to at least 2009, as we detailed in our Wednesday followup.

The narrative says that one witness saw Cox and Heeter arguing on August 2nd, and that they saw Cox pull a knife during that incident, though no one was injured. When Heeter was well enough to speak with police in the hospital last Thursday, the narrative says, he told them that he and his 3-year-old daughter were at a nearby gas station about a week earlier when Cox was there. Cox, he said, was yelling at everyone, including racial slurs. Heeter told police his daughter had become frightened and that Cox looked at them and said he better hold his daughter tight or he might get her. Hester said he told Cox to stop talking about his daughter and left. He told police he saw Cox again a few days later and tried to talk to him about frightening his daughter, but Cox started to yell. The night of the attack, Heeter said, he saw Cox walking near the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church and pulled into its lot, got out of his car, and yelled at Cox. That, he said, is when Cox lunged at him and started slashing.

The charging documents also include Cox’s side of the story, claiming he was being “stalked” by the victim, as well as detailing tirades at the hospital. (added) Here are the documents – please note that they contain the racial and homophobic slurs Cox is alleged to have used after his arrest. They do not include names of witnesses or any other third parties besides police and prosecutors, which is why we are uploading them directly rather than transcribing as we would otherwise do. Cox is scheduled to be arraigned – to enter an initial plea to the charge – on August 28th.

68 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Ryan Cox charged with second-degree assault in Gatewood stabbing"

  • Jason August 14, 2017 (3:08 pm)

    Seems a little low both on charges and bail.  

  • Les August 14, 2017 (3:18 pm)

    Why is he not being charged with a hate crime also  ? 

    • Dan August 14, 2017 (3:27 pm)

      I believe because his victim in this case is a straight, white male.  He doesn’t fall into a protected class for a hate crime.  

      • GatewoodMike August 14, 2017 (3:53 pm)

        It doesn’t matter if the victim actually is gay, it’s the motivation behind the attack that matters for the hate crime statute. If someone sees you walking out of a Synogogue and attacks you yelling anti-Semitic slurs, it doesn’t matter if you’re not Jewish. That’s a hate crime under the statute. 

        • Steve August 15, 2017 (1:13 pm)

          The victim isn’t gay.

  • Bs westseattle August 14, 2017 (3:25 pm)

    Why not 1st degree? And …why not attempted murder?? Assuault really? He stabbed him in the head-chest-multiple times!!  Is it because he was out of his mind because HE CHOSE NOT TO TAKE HIS MEDICINE? Anyone who has a history of any mental stuff and refuses to take their medication as prescribed to prevent this BS-should be locked up in a mental institution -this is a threat to our society-this is a failure on both ends-wake up liberal Seattle -fight for rights are for people to maintain dignity and safety-it isNOT  dignified -this man was failed in our system -he will be failed again-2nd degree charges  may not get him the help he needs period

    • Steve August 15, 2017 (1:14 pm)

      This will probably be his 3rd strike. He’ll go away for life.

      • WSB August 15, 2017 (1:47 pm)

        I don’t believe either of his two felony convictions – third-degree assault and malicious harassment – were strike offenses, and I don’t think this one is either. (Any of our lurking criminal-law experts, please correct me if wrong – I looked at several credible online sources.)

  • Bye August 14, 2017 (3:29 pm)

    Hmm… booked 28 times in the last 20 years. I know Seattle is super liberal and lenient when it comes to criminals, but lock him up and throw away the key. He’s obviously nothing but trouble. If he won’t take his medication, he shouldn’t be allowed on the street.

    • WSB August 14, 2017 (3:31 pm)

      This is not being prosecuted by the city; the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is a county agency. (Led by a Republican, since you bring up politics, Dan Satterberg.)

  • Matthew August 14, 2017 (3:42 pm)

    I hope Heeter has a swift recovery, and that Cox gets the help he clearly needs. But this is also a good reminder that one should not approach or escalate interactions with people you suspect are mentally unstable and/or aggressive. The best course of action is to get away quickly and report the person to the authorities, who have the professional training and equipment to safely handle the situation. Not trying to victim blame, of course, just a word of caution for others who may experience a similar circumstance.

  • Just Wondering August 14, 2017 (3:42 pm)

    Approaching a mentally unstable person at night could always be dangerous. 

  • Judy Mellon` August 14, 2017 (3:42 pm)

    My partner and I are planning a move to Seattle in the next six months, and were considering housing near this area. From the sounds of it, the crime rate is high I mean assaults are more significant than property crimes.

    Does anyone live near this area and have any feedback?

    • Sara B August 14, 2017 (4:06 pm)

      I live a block away from where the assault happened, and I consider it an extreme aberration.  I never fear walking around my neighborhood alone at night; I think it’s a safe neighborhood overall.  Obviously, there are property crimes and occasional other issues, but I would recommend the neighborhood to anyone. 

    • Mrpoetry August 14, 2017 (5:07 pm)

      My partner and I (gay males) lived literally 50 yards from the place of the attack for over 8 years.  Never even once did we feel unsafe in this part of the Gatewood neighborhood.  We now live in another part of West Seattle, but I still miss that community.  I encourage you to check it out without concern.

    • Alki Resident August 14, 2017 (5:13 pm)

      I grew up in the neighborhood, moved around the area and came back. It’s a great safe area. It’s overcrowded with people who also love this area. Washington has crime everywhere, you need to do your part in keeping your home locked, know your neighbors and get a security device installed. It’s not small town USA anymore.

    • Peter August 14, 2017 (5:23 pm)

      I live near there. It is a very safe area with a very low crime rate. Don’t let one bad incident keep you away. 

    • RCS August 14, 2017 (5:35 pm)

      Judy, my partner and I (gay males) have lived in Gatewood for the last 9 years. It is a wonderful place to live. It is safe, walkable, and everyone is friendly. 

    • Swede. August 14, 2017 (7:20 pm)

      Theft is high for sure. Especially involving cars. My car insurance went up 11% moving to WS from Capitol Hill… Otherwise it’s pretty chill here like the other commenter also point out. 

    • Katie August 14, 2017 (8:16 pm)

      I’d say it’s a low crime area for city living. 

  • West Seattle Hipster August 14, 2017 (3:45 pm)

    The low bail (considering the viciousness of the attack) is puzzling.    I am quite certain that Cox’s violent behavior will continue to escalate, and someone will end up dying.

    Our court system is an unfunny joke.

  • Franci August 14, 2017 (3:46 pm)

    Given the fact that his behavior is escalating – there should be no bail!  He needs to be committed as he is obviously a danger to himself and others.   They need to find this man a bed where he can receive treatment.

  • Ugh August 14, 2017 (3:46 pm)

    How is this not attempted murder?  The guy is a danger to the community and needs to be put away for a very long time.

  • Pleased August 14, 2017 (4:02 pm)

    Very pleased that after many MANY years of calling the police on Ryan Cox he will no longer be lingering around my home and my children’s elementary school.  Good riddance! If I ever see him in WS again I’ll know there are some serious problems with our judicial system.  Very sad that it took something this extreme to get that man off the street.  Happy that our schools and churches can go back to being safe places, without dangerous crazy creeps  lurking around with knives.

    • Alki Resident August 14, 2017 (5:15 pm)

      I guess you missed the story about the guy with a bat around here.

  • Franci August 14, 2017 (4:05 pm)

    Judy Mellon – Assaults of this nature are not common in Gatewood neighborhood or West Seattle for that matter, it happened very recently and we as a community are certainly concerned about the resolution of this matter. 

     All in all, West Seattle is a great place to live, just as safe as any other in city neighborhood.


  • GatewoodMike August 14, 2017 (4:08 pm)

    Quick perusal of the RCWs looks like the max sentence for 2nd degree assault is 10 yrs with a potential for a one year enhancement for using a knife. My best guess on why the lower charge: Mr. Heeter initiated contact with Cox on the day of the incident. Please do not misunderstand me that this in any way justifies what happened!! However, it does leave open the possibility for a defense for Cox if this goes to trial.

    The prosecutor’s office may not want to try to prove a higher level charge with a potential defense in this case. 

    • sw August 14, 2017 (4:45 pm)

      I had the same thoughts when I read the report.  In testimony, Mr. Heeter acknowledged that he twice engaged Cox – the final time pulling his vehicle over and getting out to confront him.  This gives the defense something to work with.  I agree with your assessment of the prosecutor not seeking a higher level charge – they probably know they can get the assault charge given Cox’s history.  Had the attack been completely unprovoked we’d have a different situation.

      If Cox can be put away for 10 years, I’ll take that.  Still angers me that it had to escalate to this level before action could be taken.  Wishing all the best to Mr. Heeter and his family during his recovery.

  • squareeyes August 14, 2017 (4:12 pm)

    @Judy M: this thread isn’t the best place to post the question – I suggest starting in the Forum and you’ll get a good deal of feedback to your question.  I’ve lived in West Seattle (Seaview neighborhood) since 2001 and love it.  I really don’t think the crime here is any worse than anywhere else in Seattle although there are pockets where it’s worse than surrounding areas, it’s just that micro-news sources such as this Blog make crimes easier to find out about.

    • West Sea Neighbor August 15, 2017 (8:01 am)

      And a bit off-topic,  we are indeed lucky to have this particular “micro-news source”–the best darn neighborhood blog in the country!

      • WSB August 15, 2017 (9:40 am)

        Thanks. 10 years in business as of this fall.

  • Zed August 14, 2017 (4:42 pm)

    This is a horrible reminder to not attempt to reason or confront the so many on our streets that are like this. I lived downtown for many years before moving back to WS. I learned that the person you become after years on the streets, even without schizophrenia, or the drugs, will make you wary , defensive, and possibly dangerous. Add addiction and mental health struggles and I’m surprised more of this doesn’t happen.  And more and more of them seem to be making WS their home.

    • j August 15, 2017 (9:30 am)

      Well stated, Zed.  Though we seek to resolve conflict, there are those that you should not confront and clearly Ryan Cox will never see rationality.

  • Judy Mellon` August 14, 2017 (4:46 pm)

    (Deleted – see this explanation)

    • WSB August 14, 2017 (4:54 pm)

      SPD has a ton of stats. You can look at individual communities here:

      Look at Morgan Junction and Fauntleroy, the nearest neighborhoods. There’s not a selection for Gatewood as there is no organized community council and when SPD put together the “microcommunity plans,” they had to have someone to work with. You can also e-mail Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Burbridge who was the point person for those plans originally – she can help you come up with stats, and can answer questions – she is a civilian SPD employee – TR

  • Judy Mellon` August 14, 2017 (5:10 pm)

    Thank you for this information. Where we live we don’t have a neighborhood blog to help keep people informed.

    May I ask if there is a public transportation website? We do not own a car (very green) and prefer the bus or the train.

    • miws August 14, 2017 (6:33 pm)

      Judy, King County Metro provides local transit service:

      This particular area is served by:

      Rapid Ride “C” Line

      Route 22

      Route 116

      Route 128

      Please note that Routes 22 and 116 have somewhat limited service. Rapid Ride “C” has all day service to/from downtown Seattle. 

      The 22 (which serves only part of West Seattle) runs along this stretch of California Avenue. That and all the other routes serve the California & Fauntleroy intersection at various stops, and the “C” and 116 have service along Fauntleroy Way to the west (toward the water) from this section of California, and depending on how far south may be a closer walk than California & Fauntleroy. 


  • flimflam August 14, 2017 (5:44 pm)

    hoo boy – 28 arrests since the late 90’s, a baseball bat assault, now MAYBE 10 years for stabbing someone in the chest? should be attempted murder and he should never see the streets again.

  • Mark August 14, 2017 (5:58 pm)

    And it would be appropriate for Ryan to pay all hospital medical expenses incurred.

  • Steve August 14, 2017 (6:06 pm)

    And thanks to Lisa and the council some poor landlord will never get to conduct a criminal background on this person.  Hopefully he is incarcerated for a long time but it is Seattle.  I hope for a quick recovery for the victim.

    • Annoyed WSR August 15, 2017 (12:46 pm)

      You realize the new law doesn’t restrict landlords from running criminal background checks but more or less prevents people who have already served there time or been arrested in the past from being denied housing. 

      Keep in mind the smallest of things are considered felonies i.e. not paying a parking ticket or skipping fare on a bus.

      But by all means continue sitting on a pedestal.

      • Rob August 15, 2017 (5:31 pm)

        Actually that’s not true, Annoyed WSR: 

        Under the new rules, the only people who could be denied housing are those listed on sex-offender registries who were convicted as adults. Even then, landlords would need to prove they’re denying housing for a legitimate business reason.”

        So, should Ryan Cox get out of prison in 10 years and apply for a rental, the landlord would not be able to screen his criminal convictions, or if they could screen them, they couldn’t deny him as a result.   

    • Rob August 15, 2017 (5:25 pm)

      Steve, my thought exactly.  I don’t understand the rationale -at all- for what the Council just passed.  I have to hope/imagine that it will be quickly challenged in court before someone is victimized by a criminal moved in by an unwitting landlord.

    • Annoyed wsr August 15, 2017 (10:47 pm)

      No where in that doc did it say you could not screen someone. 

      And youre assuming someone who commits commits a big enough crime like Ryan would  have enough money to rent an apartment by himself. 

      I stand with what I said and I also watched the meeting on television so before you go quoting parts of discussion, don’t. 

  • Jeff August 14, 2017 (6:32 pm)

    I assume that the defendants financial situation factors into the bail determination? $150k is probably more than enough to keep a homeless person like Mr. Cox in jail.

  • M August 14, 2017 (7:05 pm)

    At least we get around 10 years without him menacing our neighborhood. I was really getting sick of him waking our kids up with his screaming early in the morning. 

  • Tom Naddleson August 14, 2017 (7:22 pm)

    Judy relax, West Seattle has one of the lowest crime rates in the city and all are welcome here.

  • WS Guy August 14, 2017 (8:34 pm)

    One thing to be cautious about is renting in Seattle.  By law, a landlord must accept the first qualified applicant and may not do a criminal background check.  Nearby areas have no such laws, so Seattle is bound to attract ex-criminals to its rentals.

    I *think* this is part of a strategy to reduce the cost of housing in Seattle.  So you might get a better deal.  Or you might find that landlords are taking their rentals off the (public) market.  Just be aware of why.

  • Out for a Walk August 14, 2017 (9:17 pm)

    This link from Seattle police department  

    provides a map you can move around the city to see reports of various types of crimes.  

    You will notice that, in general, the vast majority of crimes occur around commercial centers and not in the neighborhoods.  

    West Seattle has little crime compared to the rest of Seattle.        

  • KBear August 14, 2017 (9:41 pm)

    For those who asked why not attempted murder, I don’t think there is such a charge in Washington. It’s considered assault. 

  • Wscommuter August 14, 2017 (10:33 pm)

    @Kbear – actually, incorrect.  Any felony in WA can be charged as “attempted” – it simply requires an act toward completing the crime which evidences intent.  “Attempt” felonies are then punished, if I recall correctly, at 75% of the completed crime (i.e. –  a 100 month sentence for a completed crime would have a 75 month sentence for an attempted crime).

    For others above discussing potential punishment – the “10 year” max for Assault 2 is simply the statutory maximum for a “B” felony in WA.  The actual sentence would be based on an offender score calculation (see RCW 9A) which sets forth the sentencing grid, based on “seriousness level” and on “offender score” (which accounts for past felony convictions – not misdemeanor convictions).  Knowing nothing about this guy and his conviction history, I can still pretty much guarantee he is facing far less than the 10 year statutory max.  If you don’t like that, don’t blame the prosecutors or the judges – these are set by the state legislature.  Talk to your representatives if you want increased punishment for violent offenses.  

    • WSB August 14, 2017 (10:46 pm)

      According to the charging documents (linked toward the bottom of the story), he has two felony convictions – assault 3 and malicious harassment, both from the baseball-bat-attack case. Everything else was a misdemeanor

    • KBear August 14, 2017 (11:16 pm)

      Thanks, WScommuter! 

  • wscommuter August 14, 2017 (11:06 pm)

    Thanks WSB.  It’s been a long time since I looked at a sentencing grid, but with 2 prior felonies, he is likely looking at about a year or so for the Assault 2 and another year for using a non-firearm deadly weapon as an enhancement on the underlying charge.  So probably a couple of years, give or take.  

    My editorial comment – mentally ill people are really hard to handle in the criminal justice system.  We cannot forcibly medicate them in most cases, and yet many of these folks are dearly in need of medication.  Obviously public safety concerns are paramount.  For these reasons, a crime like this, which is scary as hell and potentially could have resulted in a death are handled under our laws in ways that are very frustrating to folks.  The “lock ’em up and throw away the key” jingoistic idea may feel good to say, but the real world is far more complicated than this.  Likewise, the ignorance displayed in blaming “liberal Seattle” is detached from reality.  Prosecutors here are just as tough as any other major city – in fact, often tougher (the trial rate here is higher than most all major American cities).  It feels good to blame “liberals” and to say there are easy solutions to these problems.  But the solutions aren’t easy.  They just aren’t.  

    • P August 15, 2017 (9:38 am)

      You phrased that so eloquently and well. You’re 1000% right for all of it. 

  • AH August 15, 2017 (10:00 am)

     Judy Mellon

     I’m sorry to hear about your scary experience.  I can imagine that find somewhere safe is important to you.  Gatewood is a wonderful neighborhood, and as others mentioned above, quite safe for being in the city.  We are also one that values diversity and inclusiveness.  Stating the race of your assailant was unnecessary and I hope that you’ll consider how comments like that play into a harmful dialogue.    Please do not be offended by this comment, its just important that we all examine our language and its impacts. 

    • WSB August 15, 2017 (10:08 am)

      AH – thanks for your comment. I meant to mention, we have since determined that “Judy” was a prankster/troll (after about two dozen now-deleted replies to which we were flagged in the forum, including several that continued to change the story of “her” alleged experience). The original question seemed bonafide and a valid question so I don’t want to throw out the replies that followed that original comment, which deleting it could do, so I am deleting its contents and leaving the shell – TR

  • LightenUpFrancis August 15, 2017 (12:35 pm)

    Writing off Seattle’s leftist “look the other way” attitude is precisely what is wrong with this city. Allowing homeless mental patients off their meds to live comfortably on the streets, congregate in tent enclaves and occasionally violently attack productive tax paying members of society is not a problem to you? Hospitalize and medicate them or put them in jail. To say that there are no easy answers is a lazy cop-out. 

    • P August 15, 2017 (4:24 pm)

      Really force medic or throw them in jail that’s the solution? That’s a god awful solution not to mention inhumane. You want a homeless kid who stole a bike to not only pay for the bike he stole but to be tried as an adult and now you’re saying that instead of getting the mentally ill help to BEGIN WITH we should instead fall victim and then punish them by throwing the book at them and throwing away the key? 

  • TJ August 15, 2017 (5:13 pm)

    I totally agree LIGHTENUPFRANCIS. Our elected officials refuse to address this aggressively because of progressive pc mindset. We are paying for the meds I assume. MAKE them take them. Involuntarily committ them. For their sake and our benefit. 

    • P August 15, 2017 (10:50 pm)

      Some of you are ruthlessly heartless. No compassion to even phrase it to say get them the help they need but just involuntarily commit. Pathetic mindset. 

      • West Seattle Hipster August 16, 2017 (9:39 am)

        Mr Cox was ruthlessly heartless and showed no compassion to Mr Heeter during a violent assault.  Mr Cox should be treated likewise.

        • ltfd August 16, 2017 (12:09 pm)


        • George August 17, 2017 (2:46 pm)

          A person with severe mental illness of paranoia and schizophrenia does not think clearly. Treating that person with no compassion is ruthlessly heartless.

          • Ihateyordog August 24, 2017 (1:18 am)

            Your compassion should be directed at the innocents who may be exposed to the other end of Cox’s knife. Whether the alleged stabber is thinking clearly or not is of no concern to me.  That he has a history of violence towards others is all I need to know, to want him separated from those he might hurt. Nothing personal, Cox, I just don’t like getting stabbed!!

  • Concerned in Gatewood August 20, 2017 (8:13 pm)

    1.  What’s the best way to see when he gets released?

    2.  Was there a recent mugshot?  I think the one posted someone said was old?


    • WSB August 20, 2017 (8:42 pm)

      There is no recent mugshot. He has not served time in state prison and that’s the only agency that releases mugshots, unless someone is a registered sex offender (he is not), or unless they are the subject of a search and police choose to release one (which is where the one from pre-2009 came from).

      You can register for notification in a change of custody status on any offender via VINE. I usually access it through the King County Jail Register but it appears you can get there directly:

Sorry, comment time is over.