WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Station 36 firefighters ask for security improvements after attacks from above

Firefighters at Station 36 alongside the West Seattle Bridge [map] have been attacked from above, twice this week.

(Photos courtesy Aaron Patterson)

A station officer, Aaron Patterson, summarizes what happened as: “Five firefighters’ vehicles were targeted and damaged. Objects were thrown off of the defunct eastbound onramp to the WS bridge. Rocks, bottles, eggs, metal pipes, logs, a car radio, and even a shopping cart were found on and around the firefighters’ cars.” This photo shows the shopping cart:

The first attack happened early Tuesday morning. According to the Seqttle Police report, responding officers noted damage to at least two firefighters’ personal vehicles, including windshield cracks rendering them undrivable, and found rocks in the parking lot, including “a large rock approximately 6 inches in diameter.”

The second was discovered around 9:30 pm Wednesday. The report from the station officer says, “Numerous large rocks, lengths of metal pipe, beer cans, large pieces of fallen trees, and trash were found on and around vehicles. Investigations by the responding SPD officers and the SFD personnel present surmised that both attacks were carried out from the defunct West Seattle bridge eastbound onramp.” After the first attack, the report says, “members had parked bumper to bumper on the east side of the station to avoid being directly underneath the overpass. … These vehicles were directly targeted as the distance was much greater from the overpass to the vehicles. The objects were thrown directly at the vehicles with malicious intent.”

The report adds, “This direct and blatant physical attack against members’ personal vehicles causes us to have real concern for our own physical safety. Had any one of the objects thrown stuck a person, it could have resulted in severe bodily harm, including death.”

While there’s no word of a witness, the officer’s report goes on to detail encampments nearby, including one that is described as having frequent fires, including some from which smoke goes into the air intake for firefighters’ living quarters. The report says, “Engine 36 has had multiple interactions with the resident of this encampment and directed him to extinguish the fires. He continues to burn. Also, it is of grave concern to the members of 36’s that this same homeless individual has erected multiple effigies of firefighters surrounding his encampment.” The report adds, “It is currently unknown who is responsible for these vandalism attacks on the members of 36, but we have reason to suspect that they are related to this issue.”

The report also has requests on improving safety for the station: “To provide for the physical safety of Seattle Fire Department employees and to protect the publicly and privately owned property (Marine 80 and a SFD Gator are stored outside) we would request that action be taken immediately by erecting a fence along the onramp surrounding the station, installing a video camera surveillance system surrounding the station, and requesting that SDOT, SPD, and other appropriate City agencies clear all encampments from this area.”

We asked SFD what they’re doing about the requests; spokesperson Kristin Tinsley tells WSB, “The department’s Services Division is aware of these incidents and is taking steps to help address the complaints. Right now our focus is on adding security lighting, and we are also looking at possible fencing options.”

50 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Station 36 firefighters ask for security improvements after attacks from above"

  • Auntie November 5, 2021 (11:35 am)

    When an encampment becomes more than  just an eyesore – an actual danger to the public, especially our first responders, it’s time to do something about getting rid of it. This has obviously been an ongoing problem with which the city has not dealt, so long past time. Get this person (or persons) the help they need and clear out the encampment and fence off the area to prevent its return. What are they waiting for – someone to actually be injured?

    • Peter November 5, 2021 (1:30 pm)

      Please contact SPD with your evidence that someone from the encampment did this.

      • Cranky November 5, 2021 (2:17 pm)

        According to the report, you don’t have to look far for a problem individual. The report says, “Engine 36 has had multiple interactions with the resident of this encampment and directed him to extinguish the fires. He continues to burn. Also, it is of grave concern to the members of 36’s that this same homeless individual has erected multiple effigies of firefighters surrounding his encampment.” 

        • Jort November 5, 2021 (5:01 pm)

          Please contact SPD with your evidence that someone from the encampment did this.

          • George Emerald November 5, 2021 (5:25 pm)

            It seems pretty obvious that when there’s a guy burning firefighters in effigy next to a fire station, and then shortly afterward there’s a shopping cart thrown on those firefighters’ vehicles, that maybe the effigy-burning-man should be taken in for questioning as a likely suspect.

            I guess your approach is more along the lines of “Gosh, who could possibly be throwing shopping carts onto firefighters? Certainly not someone from an adjacent encampment full of shopping carts with a guy who burns firefighter figures in effigy! Must be, like, the commuters? With shopping carts they keep in their cars? Well, nothing we can do! Good luck, firefighters – consider dodging objects from above as part of your ongoing training!” 

      • Auntie November 5, 2021 (6:09 pm)

        I was referring to the fires which were witnessed and reported by the SFD. Is that not enough to indicate a danger to not only the public but also the campers themselves? Look at the recent fires in the area in empty buildings – were those caused by ghosts? We need to do something to help the homeless people into housing or whatever they need.

        • Jill Loblaw November 6, 2021 (3:33 pm)

          And out of our neighborhood for good. Here’s to hoping that Mayor Harrell can get the homeless problem under control and these “residents” what they need to become contributing citizens of Seattle. 

      • sgs November 5, 2021 (7:19 pm)

        The report contains enough evidence to make this person a suspect.  Get the cameras up to get evidence to charge a crime.  In the meantime, fires under overpasses have had bad results in the past.  Enough reason to move the encampment. 

  • WS Girl November 5, 2021 (11:48 am)

    This infuriates me! Our firefighters don’t deserve this! Hopefully something is done soon to prevent this from happening again.

  • JVP November 5, 2021 (11:50 am)

    We’re living in the dystopian future written of in some bad novel. Everyone should read this article, it’s very relevant to the current situation. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/11/the-new-meth/620174/

    • JWinWS November 6, 2021 (9:38 am)

      JVP, thanks for sharing! A long and detailed article but comes down to a frightening reality. The last few paragraphs make me picture and explain the encampments by WS Fitness.

    • Smoosh November 7, 2021 (5:31 am)

      Thank for the share, what a great article.  One section stood out “Perhaps the best defense against epidemics like this one lies in choosing to look more closely and more sympathetically at the people in those hoods—to put a higher priority on community than we’ve done in recent years. America has made itself more vulnerable to scourges, even as those scourges grow more potent. But scourges are also an opportunity: They call on us to reexamine how we live.”  For all of you celebrating Davison’s election and thinking a tough on crime approach is going to help you feel more safe……  good luck with that.  

  • flimflam November 5, 2021 (12:00 pm)

    Wow, this is terrible. The camp needs to be cleared out. Surely someone will suggest this “  concern to the members of 36’s that this same homeless individual has erected multiple effigies of firefighters surrounding his encampment.” us just a weird coincidence.

  • Lola November 5, 2021 (12:20 pm)

    I’m sorry but when are we going to say enough is enough?  Let’s hope our new Mayor can do something about all of this, or has a plan.  What we have done for these last few years is not working.  I am hoping that they can catch whomever is doing this.  Look at how many cars have been ruined on I-5 or I-90 or people who have been maimed by people who throw stuff off.  

  • Amy Thomson November 5, 2021 (12:33 pm)

    My husband and I were eating at the Chelan Café a week or two ago and noticed smoke coming from an encampment under the onramp to the West Seattle Bridge.  I expect that’s the encampment under discussion in the article.  I hope this issue can be resolved peacefully.

  • Cranky November 5, 2021 (12:44 pm)

    out with the old lame politicos and in with the new mayor and city atty. I can only hope they have the spine to deal with these issues. Never ever should have allowed all this to happen. When offered shelter, many in the ‘camps’ said no. That can’t continue on.  Public health and safety trump the tent coalition. And how much money has been spent with minimal results?

  • Mac November 5, 2021 (1:13 pm)

    “Also, it is of grave concern to the members of 36’s that this same homeless individual has erected multiple effigies of firefighters surrounding his encampment.” …I’m sorry what? We have a witch trying to break people’s stuff now? As if the WS Bridge didn’t have enough issues already.

  • Jason November 5, 2021 (1:21 pm)

    Sounds like a clear cut case to remove this encampment immediately as it is providing a clear and present danger to the public.  Clear it right away and have some there to help the individual(s) but to also make it clear that it’s not coming back.  The firefighters who’ve been working hard to serve us all through the pandemic (how many hundreds of covid tests do you think each of them has administered) don’t deserve this.

  • Drew November 5, 2021 (1:29 pm)

    We’re past due for a change of leadership in this city.  Enough is enough indeed.  This week’s election is a start, but there’s more house cleaning ahead for the city council.  I hope enough voters agree.

  • Mj November 5, 2021 (2:08 pm)

    Voters have spoken resoundingly that they have had enough.  

  • Kravitz November 5, 2021 (2:20 pm)

    Oh fer chrissakes… when is this crap going to end? This sounds vaguely similar to the “person or person(s) in crisis” who preyed on unsuspecting drivers along I-5 over the summer, throwing chunks of concrete and other garbage at vehicles. Thankfully no one was killed, but how many people were injured and how much damage was done, and who foots the bill? The victims. This is beyond ridiculous – I feel like every victim of this type of attack and vandalism should file suit against the City of Seattle for failing to protect ALL individuals. Compassion and empathy for those struggling with mental illness, addiction, and homelessness shouldn’t come at the expense of failing to protect everyone else. 

  • Brian November 5, 2021 (2:21 pm)

    It’s weird how there are zero witnesses? Aren’t fire houses staffed 24/7? How did they not see this alleged attack occur?

    • WSB November 5, 2021 (3:41 pm)

      Take a look at a photo of 36 with the bay doors down. Kind of bunkeresque.

    • m November 5, 2021 (6:25 pm)

      @ Brian – “alleged” attack? What else could it possibly be called?

  • Buddy November 5, 2021 (2:30 pm)

    Hey, I would actually like more police in my neighborhood also! Fire people are no different then people who live in this community we are all suffering from crime, people on drugs, people with mental illness who are living in our community be in in a tent, car, or even people next door to us.

  • Al King November 5, 2021 (2:36 pm)

    Peter. I take it you have evidence that the homeless camp ISN’T responsible. Please share your facts/evidence. Also assuming  you’ve shared it with SPD/SFD. 

    • Brian November 5, 2021 (4:21 pm)

      I’m honestly not being sarcastic here but that is the exact literal 100% opposite of what “innocent until proven guilty” means and I wasn’t sure if you were aware of this or not. 

      • Pedro November 5, 2021 (5:16 pm)

        Well, we know they are 100% breaking the law by having their encampment on public property and engaging in illegal burning  . . . so there’s that.

  • Sigh November 5, 2021 (2:47 pm)

    If it was a housed person doing this, would the WSB comments section be full of people advocating for the removal of houses and apartments from the vicinity of the fire station?  Unlikely.  What’s going on is unacceptable and I hope SFD and their firefighters can find a quick resolution to protect the property and safety of their workers.  You guys jumping at the opportunity to take these terrible incidents and make it all about your distaste for the unsheltered is gross and not helpful.

    • Alki resident November 5, 2021 (3:34 pm)

      No, actually we the people are fed up with being victimized by criminals. Dishing out money we don’t have to replace what was stolen or damaged. It would be great if we didn’t have to comment on these situations but it’s a blog and a comment section so….🤷‍♀️ And by the way, I have sheltered people next door that is a 24/7 activity center of drugs and commotion. They’re a menace to our neighbors and it’s been a great deal of struggle to get complaints acknowledged by the city. 

    • Auntie November 5, 2021 (5:34 pm)

      No – if it was a housed person, I would still call the cops. It’s not about the dwellings, it’s about the occupants when they misbehave. Some of us would prefer at least a marginally civilized society around us. I’m tired of criminals being turned into victims. Wah, wah, wah! Behave yourself and there won’t be a problem.

    • flimflam November 6, 2021 (6:08 am)

      if it was a “housed” person messing with/endangering firefighters the police would be at their house, likely arresting them.

  • Balderdash November 5, 2021 (3:48 pm)

    Complaints about camps go unacknowledged by the city for the most part.  You said a mouthful. just the fires alone are a menace to public health and safety

  • Cranky November 5, 2021 (4:51 pm)

    Lessee… Fire department tells this guy to stop with the fires.  In typical oppositional defiance, he doesn’t. Time for this guy to go… 900 plus ‘camp’ fires since january. Then we get the damage to FD personnel cars and such. Maybe it was this guy, maybe not.  He isn’t helping matters with his behavior. Walks like a duck… perhaps he’s the duck.  

    You can’t have pyromaniacs for neighbors. Housed or un housed.

  • Tracey November 5, 2021 (4:56 pm)

    There is a large pile of garbage on the trail that connects Spokane and Delridge not far from this incident.  One day I rode by and it was smoldering from being on fire recently.  This area has become a dump and a safety hazard.

  • Peter November 5, 2021 (5:43 pm)

    So sorry to hear that this is happening to the firefighters who protect us all. We need to clear these homeless campus out immediately – enough is enough! 

  • Al King November 5, 2021 (6:54 pm)

    Brian.Sigh  Brian i agree with innocent until proven guilty but in my world 2 + 2 always equals 4. Sigh i take it you believe homeless camps must stay where they’re at and never be removed?? My distaste is for the criminal act’s. I find criminal acts gross and distasteful and not helpful.

    • Ice November 5, 2021 (9:37 pm)

      I don’t want these people living there any more than you do, but when you just ‘remove’ them, you don’t actually solve the problem. They just go to another neighborhood or under another bridge. The best case scenario for forcefully clearing out a homeless encampment is that these people just go to some other city and we solve the problem by dumping it on another municipality. Worst case is they set up across the street from where they are currently, resulting in a colossal boondoggle. Being reminded what failure looks like in our society by seeing homeless encampments is certainly unpleasant, but a policy of “YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME BUT YOU CANNOT STAY HERE,” doesn’t really solve anything. Busting the asshole that did this would be real justice. Forcing a group of broken down, non-functional people who make you uncomfortable to relocate simply because you assume that they were involved in the crime isn’t justice.

      • cheeseWS777 November 6, 2021 (3:04 am)

        Assuming that they commit a crime is wrong, but its not just that. Thats just the cherry. It is proven that this group is being a nuisance and has been given the opprtunitie to shape up and chose to not only continue but wave their middle finger.

      • JVP November 6, 2021 (1:38 pm)

        If you clear encampments out when they’re dangerous or they behave poorly, maybe, just maybe they’ll think twice before behaving poorly. If they behave in a reasonably safe manner then yeah, leave them be. I mean why not engage in destructive or criminal behavior? There’s no reason for anyone not to in the current environment. 

  • Junction Lady November 5, 2021 (7:05 pm)

    This is so wrong!  Retaliation vandalism that is unwarranted.  Enough is enough.  We have rights as citizens and fire fighters, although it seems we don’t more often than not these days.  Sad state of affairs.

  • RDomino November 5, 2021 (7:51 pm)

    We shouldn’t have to be fortifying a fire house as though we are doing “Fort Apache” movie  reruns.  They should not have to hunker down like it’s bunker mentality (even though, yes, it looks like a bunker).You can’t just have people roaming around creating mischief and attacks on a fire station.  So, yes, security cameras for sure and then watch this guy like a hawk.  The absurdity of a ‘camper’ with a fire and getting visited by the fire personnel and basically being told, ‘screw you’.  The city acts like it’s helpless to do anything about any ‘camps’, but a lot of money is going into the homeless… to what effect.

  • cheeseWS777 November 6, 2021 (1:29 am)

    I beleive the answer to the disagreement in this thread lies somewhere in the middle (as usualy is the case) between the oposing extreme views. It seems to me that the camp in question has become a problem whether you can prove they attacked the station or not (seems like they most likley did, but again, beside the point) at the very least since the camp is an issue and cant remain respectfull should be given their 72 hour notice and told not to return.But also you cant just hate all homeless people because of these idiots who cant controll their behavior. Every case is different and even though people are getting tired of the crisis doesnt mean to say screw it and just label all as the same

  • Rara November 6, 2021 (9:54 am)

    That definitely looks like a personal attack on the firemen to me. Shameful. 

  • Audifans November 6, 2021 (3:06 pm)

    This guy seems interesting. He is definitely dry. However he has refused to stop making fires and the fire department has had numerous interactions with him with smoke going into the fire house. He isn’t being a good citizen in that regard.  Maybe he will wise up and follow his ‘golden rule’ he erected out front.As to ““Also, it is of grave concern to the members of 36’s that this same homeless individual has erected multiple effigies of firefighters surrounding his encampment.”  Well, at the present time, this is the state of his artwork about the fire personnel…. hmm, well, maybe it’s been accompanied by threats but his artistic presentations don’t look all that threatening . I get the feeling we don’t have the full sense of what these multiple interactions have been.So he needs to quit with  the fires (and thankfully we are into the rain season). If he can’t do that, he needs to go

  • Cranky November 6, 2021 (5:26 pm)

    One witness saw a fire there and then came back with a fire extinguisher to put it out.  Flames up fairly high  and close to the bridge underside.  Fire dept has also asked for the ‘camp’ to be dismantled (as well as security measures)

  • StupidinSeattle November 7, 2021 (7:54 am)

    For those of you cheering on the defund the police approach, this is what community policing looks like.  The City Council refuses to address homelessness and crime and just leaves it to exist throughout every community; the police don’t have enough officers to arrest people who break laws and city ordinances;  the City Attorney won’t prosecute the people the police arrest for crimes even when they are repeat offenders; and the first responder fire fighters are left to deal with criminal problems and dangers directly when they should be putting out fires and saving innocent lives.  Support your new Mayor and City Attorney General to change this awful, disastrous, paradigm.

    • Smoosh November 7, 2021 (11:42 am)

      Gawrsh, it’s almost like we should invest in more effective and permanent and cost effective solutions.  I am not sure that you know what ‘community policing’ actually means.  

    • WSB November 11, 2021 (9:22 am)

      Yes, there was a fire callout late last night. One engine. According to the scanner traffic at the time, possibly a propane tank involved. No injuries that I know of. We’re checking with SFD though I don’t know whether their media reps are on today.

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