FOLLOWUP: After weekend gunfire, Legion Hall operator says no more event rentals

West Seattle has seen three confirmed gunfire incidents in the past four days. The first one, early Saturday in The Triangle, didn’t leave anyone with gunshot wounds, but did raise other issues, and we followed up.

First – the police report, with more details on what officers were told happened.

As neighbors reported that night, it happened as an event was breaking up at the American Legion Post 160 hall at 37th and Alaska. The report indicates police had to sort out a chaotic scene – they found shell casings in the street, and witnesses saying people in two cars were involved. Meantime, two people reported non-gunshot injuries from some kind of clash with event security.

The event organizer told police they were just starting to close it down when the gunfire happened outside, and people scattered. Security guards said they were trying to get everyone out of the building in a calm and orderly way, but one person insisted on going back inside, and a fistfight reportedly ensued between attendees and security. No one wanted to press charges in that. Police continued investigating, but the vehicles involved in the gunfire were long gone, with some witnesses saying it might have been a black Dodge Ram truck and a black-and-white Ford Mustang.

Neighbors say they have been complaining about events at Post 160 but not getting traction. We have subsequently communicated via email with Post 160 Commander Keith Hughes. The building is also home to the West Seattle Veterans’ Center. He said he spent a lot of time on the phone the next day with SPD “and other city departments” because of the incident. He described the event as a “live concert” in which “the promoter did not do a good job at keeping the attendee list under control.” He says the hall has had four events in the past 10 weeks and refutes neighbors’ noise complaints: “I have a db Meter program on my phone and I have checked the noise level at the sidewalk in front of the Hall, it has never exceeded 65 db, which is the City’s noise level ordinance. Any time I have gotten a reading above 60, I have asked the performers to turn down the sound system and they have complied. There was also an 8-member Security Staff who strictly enforced the mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing requirements.”

Live entertainment, however, has been against state rules for months. Hughes says he “took a chance, bent the rules, and rented the building” because that’s the only source of income to pay bills “that have been stacking up since I had to quit renting back in February.” Besides the Veterans Center, the building also houses “a Cold Weather Shelter during the winter so homeless people don’t freeze to death or starve on West Seattle streets. This is a free service I provide, but it is not ‘free’ for me. There is food to buy, cots and blankets to provide and to wash between uses, and huge increases in the utility bills. Renting the hall out is my primary source of funds to carry out this work. I have received some greatly appreciated donations to help with the shelter, but food donations don’t pay the utility bills or the building insurance or the state, county, or city taxes.”

But, he says, “That is all over now. No, there will not be any more music events at the Legion Hall.”

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: After weekend gunfire, Legion Hall operator says no more event rentals"

  • Wsres November 17, 2020 (10:06 pm)

    It makes me mad that he thought it was okay to rent to live entertainment groups that would attract crowds when the current state rules for operating have urged not to hold such gatherings. Having been in the military, he should know how to follow rules.

    • O'erthehill November 18, 2020 (5:39 am)

      Well, that’s just a very small example of how desperate a situation many people are in, and when our basic survival needs are threatened, we will look for remedies. I hope this thread doesn’t turn into a hall owner bashing. We all need a damn break.

    • Alki Resident November 18, 2020 (8:21 am)

      What we seem to have learned from the way a lot of people are responding to the pandemic is that they will do whatever makes it better for their personal situation. Rules, guidelines, etc. do shape public behavior, but a lot of people will do what they think they need to do. And I get it, it is tough to not be able to pay rent, mortgage, utilities, other bills and as a society we don’t really have a system in place to help people financially in a time of crisis. $1200 checks only go so far. However, there is a difference between doing something unsafe to pay the bills vs hanging out with your friends over beers. People will still do it though. It is sad, but it is what it is. I have given up on making sense of it. You have to do what makes sense for you and some people are just going to ignore what is common sense and this stuff will continue to spread until an effective vaccine is distributed to a large enough population. 

    • Chuck Jacobs November 18, 2020 (8:23 am)

      It makes me mad that people are allowed, encouraged even, to gather in large crowds to protest. It makes me mad when certain individuals in those crowds commit assault, arson, vandalism, and are immediately bailed out with no charges filed.It makes me mad that people are camping in parks and on sidewalks, getting drunk and high in public, assaulting people and burglarizing homes and businesses. It makes me mad that people are forced to abandon businesses that they’ve spent years building up with long hours and little profit.If you read the article,  you would see that Mr. Hughes isn’t a profiteer. He’s trying to keep a sorely needed volunteer service organization going. There’s bills, power, heat, maintenance, and supplies to be paid for, and the Legion hall has had to forego a major revenue stream. What would you have done in his situation?I’m going to drop off a check for them this afternoon. 

      • JES November 18, 2020 (11:14 am)

        Great to put your money where your mouth is. I’ll continue to donate to places that are doing things the right way.

      • Dr. No November 18, 2020 (1:24 pm)

        I agree Chuck!

  • Jennie November 18, 2020 (6:44 am)

    Thank you WS Blog for following up on this.

  • flimflam November 18, 2020 (6:44 am)

    if live music events are not permitted, he broke, not bent, the rules.

  • Sarah November 18, 2020 (8:17 am)

    Wow. What an attempt at martyrdom, between the statements about not being able to pay bills and using the facility as a shelter. Sorry you can’t pay the bills, great you chose to offer up the building for a good cause rather than let it sit empty, but that does not make it ok to break rules in place to protect public health. I live miles from this location so can’t speak from first-hand experience, but have definitely heard about gunshots, loud celebrations, etc. at this location (as also mentioned above). I don’t buy the decibel meter story, or at least don’t buy that he’s getting accurate readings. 

    • D November 18, 2020 (12:37 pm)

      I have a decibel machine and have compared it to a phones decibel app. The phone microphones generally do not work and do not pick up a broad spectrum of sound.  So that may be why he dismissed noise complaints based on his phone app. 

  • JES November 18, 2020 (8:37 am)

    Interesting that he calls blatantly breaking public safety rules ‘bending’ the rules, and justifies putting many people at risk to help some others. I’d be interested in knowing more about the ‘cold weather shelter’ service he’s providing- how many are utilizing the service, what it entails, etc.

  • Lincoln Park Mom November 18, 2020 (8:48 am)

    The actions of these performers, concert goers and venue owner are the reason why our children can not go back to school.  I am furious!  Seriously!  I sympathize with the financial difficulty but please! Had we complied in March, we would be back in business today.  Grow up!

  • Susan November 18, 2020 (9:08 am)

    The Legion Hall offers a meeting place for Veteran’s (when gatherings were/are allowed) among other services, perhaps cash donations to essentially help them keep the lights on would be appreciated.  As always, finding ways to be a part of a solution is beneficial.  

  • Sue H November 18, 2020 (9:27 am)

    Yes, the owner broke the rules, but it’s not entirely on him. Surely the event promoter and the musicians knew it was against the rules, but they did it anyway. People bought tickets, rather than staying at home and out of crowds. This doesn’t exonerate the fact that the owner shouldn’t have been renting it out, but a lot of people were making poor decisions in terms of public health and safety. If no one bought tickets, the event would’ve been cancelled.        

    • Jimbo November 18, 2020 (10:30 am)

      Yes, many people in our community broke the rules!  And because of their irresponsible behavior of a small group of individuals who had parties at this hall the rest of society is dealing with this fact knowing that certain people who live only think about one day of fun when they are getting drunk and having a party and are not understanding or completely ignoring how dangerous COVID-19 is to people in the world.  When will people wake up and get a clue that Covid-19 is real and deadly and is not a joke? 

  • Sad times November 18, 2020 (9:48 am)

    I feel like he should receive some state or city funding to run a cold weather shelter. Maybe it makes more sense to offer a shelter full time with grants to help, than hold dangerous events?

    • JES November 18, 2020 (11:16 am)

      Right? There are ways of doing this legally / safely. But it would require transparency about the services being provided.

  • Cathy Rouyer November 18, 2020 (10:06 am)

    Keith Hughes is a wonderful person and does so much for the West Seattle community.  The Legion hall should not have been rented out.  That was Keith’s  mistake.   However this is one mistake in a life full of community service.

    • Fletch November 18, 2020 (11:01 am)

      Keith very well may be a terrific guy – but he needs to quit lying about what was going on. So much he said to WSB is not true. There is no way he was on the sidewalk and measured it at 65 dB. That is the level of “normal conversation” or “laughter”. I either have hyper sensitive ears, he has a broken decibel reader, or he is lying. I will let you decide which you think is true. It sounds like I am at a music festival when I take my dog out.I also have not seen a single group enter or exit that building wearing a mask. I have never seen security wearing masks. There is no distancing. Give me a break with that comment about “strict enforcement”. That is a total lie.Your point is well taken about his community service – but he is digging the hole deeper and burning bridges with the neighbors around this facility. It could not be more simple. Admit it was a mistake, apologize, and most importantly quit lying about what is really happening.

    • Dan November 18, 2020 (11:16 am)

      Keith is a very giving man who mad a bad call while under pressure.  Did you all know this is the only AL post left in Seattle?  This is a place for veterans to gather and help each other. It is critical for our veterans but they have not ben able to meet since March.  They make their money by renting the Hall and have received near zero financial help from anyone.  I can’t imagine the pressure is is under to not lose this building due to unpaid bills.  The responsibility he feels to his fellow vets to find a way to keep it open to continue to serve.  Did he make the wrong call? Yes.  Should we see what we can do to help? Absolutely!  Our Veterans deserve that!

      • alki_2008 November 18, 2020 (8:37 pm)

        Isn’t there another one in Ballard?  Unfortunately, the bridge situation makes the West Seattle location less attractive and accessible.  A location in Georgetown or Beacon Hill would probably be accessible to more people.

  • brizone November 18, 2020 (11:16 am)

    Amazing all these morons in the comments characterizing Keith as the “owner”, as if he’s just trying to make money for himself or something.   It’s been owned by the American Legion since it was built in 1922.  Serious failure in reading comprehension there…

  • mark47n November 18, 2020 (11:32 am)

    Wow, that’s a pretty serious hate on that’s been running here!Yup. He broke the rules. He owned it but he’s not responsible for the behavior of those that attend the events or the behavior of the organizers or musicians. What I always find so fascinating is the number of saints around here. I mean you all must be, right? Your perfect in your sacrifice for others and your following of the rules even to your detriment. Oh, wait…probably not. I hope you all live is concrete bunkers given the stones that you’re hurling about because your due for some stones to come your way.

  • All We Need Is Love November 18, 2020 (11:42 am)

    I will go ahead and say what everyone is thinking…or at least what you should be thinking if you’re a kind human being, empathy is lost or at least it’s at an all time low for society. I saw this at school teaching everyday, the parents on their phones ignoring their children with one finger up to their face to silence them.  All of these things we complain about right now in this moment are things we have always had control over but we chose to take the easy way out or the route that would benefit the few and not the whole. Blah, blah, blah…I need my pumpkin latte, I need to exercise, I need to dye my hair, I need to celebrate a holiday that represents genocide here in America, I need to buy a bunch of crap so I can rent a storage unit and put my old crap in it.  All of you are to blame equally, each and every one of you and until we ALL take personal responsibility for what we as a collective species have done and continue to do to the beautiful flora/fauna of this planet we will continue to repeat our mistakes over and over until there is nothing left to buy, take, share or love.  Do nice things and actually mean to do them, don’t expect anything back, be selfless…try it, it makes you feel really amazing. Happiness, equality and a new world can be created if you take the blinders off and look around you.  I applaud those of you who are able to be stern yet objective with this post, I was pretty pissed when I first read it but I do understand some of the points being made. Be safe out there and PLEASE wear a mask like your life depends on it!!!

  • bolo November 18, 2020 (12:01 pm)

    Seems like there were quite a few people at these events. Not one of them thought this wasn’t a good idea? Lots of Covid deniers out there.

  • WaterWorks November 18, 2020 (1:06 pm)

    I can’t have Thanksgiving with my mom but he can host a live concert?!?! Get outta here!!

    • Watson November 28, 2020 (12:21 am)


  • Songbird November 18, 2020 (2:36 pm)

    I’m curious what genre of music the band was. Not to dox them but halls get rented out by everyone and the article seems to imply these were vets because this was a vets hall.

  • wendell November 18, 2020 (6:31 pm)

    I don’t think there’d be as many problems if the act was a Peter, Paul and Mary Tribute Band.

  • Jamie November 18, 2020 (9:50 pm)

    COVID aside, the same crowd parties there quite regularly – three times in the past 10 weeks there have been gun shots coming from those parties and every night they were there (almost every other weekend) they were pretty much racing down Alaska after revving their engines at 1am. I didn’t feel safe with that kind of activity across the street from my home. I wanted THAT particular party or group of people to stop.

Sorry, comment time is over.