West Seattle, Washington
Very early this morning, we noted on Twitter that a low, loud passing helicopter was identified on tracking software as a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk (similar to the one above). As it headed up the West Seattle shoreline, another one was flying over Vashon Island; it too crossed the peninsula, but headed east over Lake Washington, while the first one turned around and headed back south. Today, also via Twitter, we learned these were training flights. The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade (from Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma) said, “As the days become ‘shorter,’ our pilots will fly earlier in the evening to complete required night vision training flights. In the summer it does not get dark enough, early enough, to fly under night vision at hours when most people are still awake.” They added that, “At a given moment, during weekdays, there are several 16th CAB helicopters in the air all over western and central Washington.” More often than not, military aircraft aren’t identified on standard online flight trackers, but the two we heard in the midnight hour last night were.
Several readers have asked about a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and boat appearing to have been searching off West Seattle’s west-facing shore in the past few hours. We just checked with USCG Public Affairs. They explain they were called in because of an unoccupied “dinghy” – they found it and via a cell phone in it, traced its owner to Manchester (near the Southworth ferry dock). The owner said that the dinghy had gotten loose; it’s since been returned to its owner.
8:09 PM: If you’re hearing all the sirens – King County Sheriff’s Deputies and medics are converging on the Shell station at Roxbury/(corrected) 28th, where a shooting victim was found. Radio communication so far indicates they’re not yet sure where the victim was shot – possibly somewhere nearby, and then ran to the store before collapsing. Deputies are reporting a vehicle with bullet holes, too. Updates as we get them.
8:15 PM: So far they’re investigating the possibility it might have happened near Roxbury Lanes; the shot-up vehicle is in that area. Also note, the Guardian One helicopter is headed this way to assist in the search.
8:25 PM: The shooter is believed to have gotten away in a vehicle – no clear description yet – so the helicopter has moved on; deputies are also checking the Roxbury Safeway parking lot. The victim is getting treatment indicating life-threatening wounds and will be taken to the hospital by medic unit.
8:43 PM: The victim’s headed for Harborview; deputies are still talking to potential witnesses and trying to narrow down where exactly the gunfire happened. We’re told the car with the bullet holes may just have been caught in the crossfire. Meantime, KCSO confirms the victim’s injuries are life-threatening (reported in the early going as at least three gunshot wounds) and says “this will likely remain an active scene for several hours.”
10:07 PM: We’ve been monitoring, but no further updates.
9:31 AM: King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer confirms the victim died overnight. No arrest so far.
FRIDAY NIGHT NOTE: We’re aware that our coverage is being pointed to by websites claiming the victim was a well-known rapper. So far we have no confirmation of his ID, not even his age, but we’ll update if and when we get that from a credible source.
Several people asked us about a helicopter search off the west-facing West Seattle shore late last night. Flight trackers showwed it was a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter. We checked with USCG Public Affairs just now and they told us they had responded to a salvage company’s report of a “red flare” in the area. They looked from both air and sea, and found nothing, nor could they get other confirmation of a sighting, even from Washington State Ferries, and no one was reported missing, so the search was eventually called off.
At the podium in the photo is U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Anthony “Jack” Vogt, and he’s the reason that two USCG helicopters flew together along the west coast of West Seattle late this afternoon. A retirement reception was being held for Rear Adm. Vogt at Alki Point Lighthouse, celebrating 35 years of service, and we confirmed with the Coast Guard tonight that it was the reason for the flyby. Earlier in the day, he turned over the 13th Coast Guard District command to Rear Adm. Melvin Bouboulis during a ceremony at the USCG base downtown. As the announcement of the change explains, the 13th District covers “all Coast Guard operations throughout the Pacific Northwest which encompasses the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and includes more than 4,400 miles of coastline, 600 miles of inland waterways, and a 125 nautical mile international border with Canada.” Rear Adm. Vogt has been 13th District commander for the past two years. RADM Bouboulis previously served as Director of Operational Logistics at USCG headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Since we’ve received lots of questions about this via various messaging channels, email, text, and Twitter – we’ll mention it here too: The TV helicopter over Alki was just there for a live picture of the beach as part of the “gosh, it’s hot” coverage at the start of the 4 pm newscast. How hot IS it, you ask? 88 degrees at Sea-Tac at 4 pm – one degree short of the record for this date. Tomorrow’s expected to be cooler but by Friday, we could see the 90s.
3:56 PM: You might have guessed this already, but if not, the helicopter’s here for the traditional holiday-weekend-getaway-day flyover over the Fauntleroy ferry dock. No extreme backup, though, at last report from Washington State Ferries.
4:17 PM: Shortly after we published that, WSF tweeted that the Fauntleroy terminal now has a 90-minute wait. The helicopter, meantime, has moved on.
8:56 PM: Big police and fire response in the 6900 block of 2nd SW, near the 1st Avenue South Bridge. They’re looking for a man who is reported to have shot two people. The Guardian One helicopter was called out too. No other information yet.
9:07 AM: Police say the shooting is reported to have happened at “an encampment” in the area.
9:36 AM: We’ve talked to SPD spokesperson Det. Patrick Michaud at the scene. He says it happened around 8:30 am; both victims are at Harborview, (updated) a man and a woman, and that “many shots” were fired, The shooter was described as male, Black, short or no hair, possibly associated with a Dodge sedan, maybe a Challenger. K9 and helicopter are still helping search the area. We’ll add video of the briefing when it’s uploaded. (Added – here it is:)
10:01 AM: Update on the victims from SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo – ages approximate – 20-year-old man in critical condition, 28-year-old woman in serious condition.
12:06 PM: Additional information from the preliminary SPD summary:
At approximately 0830, the male and female victims were inside of their vehicle in an encampment located at the 6900 BLK of 2 Ave SW. The (shooter) walked up and fired several rounds inside the vehicle, striking the victims in the arm, abdomen, and torso. The (shooter) left on foot. Officers arrived and set up containment. Guardian 1, K99, Traffic Units, and SWAT, responded to the scene and assisted with the area search. The (shooter) wasn’t located. A witness on scene said that the same suspect was inside of a White newer model Dodge Charger or Challenger prior to the shooting.
1:06 PM: More information from police about the “many shots” that were fired – they found “seven 9mm fired cartridge casings (and) three 9mm rounds” at the scene.
Thanks to David for sending the photo. We got questions about those helicopters when they flew past Alki this evening, but no visual down here, and they didn’t show on the flight tracker we use, so they were a mystery until the photo came in. Discussion on Twitter notes that not only are they U.S. Army Chinooks flying out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, they have booms in front for mid-air refueling, which means they’re MH-47 special-operations helicopters.
7:22 PM: A Seattle Fire “scenes of violence” response is headed to 30th/Roxbury after a report of gunfire, possibly a drive-by shooting that left cars damaged too. One person is reported injured. The Guardian One helicopter may be joining the search. More to come.
7:29 PM: Though SPD and SFD are assisting, most of this is unfolding on the county side of Roxbury. The vehicle description so far: Black Charger, last seen southbound on 30th. Guardian One is arriving in the area.
7:39 PM: Deputies have told dispatch that witnesses said two other people were shot but left the scene to go directly to a hospital. The victim who was at the scene when SFD medics arrived is being taken to Harborview. … At the scene, we’re told only that the victim is male. Meantime, Guardian One has moved on, as the shooter is believed to be long gone.
8 PM: Deputies tell us this all happened at the gas station. We’re checking on the victim’s condition; haven’t heard anything further about other possible victims. Traffic at the scene is back to normal now that the initially sizable SFD response has left.
8:19 PM: SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo tells WSB the victim taken to the hospital by their medics is 18 and was transported in stable condition.
ADDED 12:29 PM FRIDAY: KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer tells WSB that the investigation continues and “I am not aware of additional victims and know of no arrests.”
11:24 PM: The Guardian One helicopter is helping Seattle Police search for a missing child. There’s no official bulletin out about him but what we heard on police radio was that he’s 9 years old, Black, about 4’5″, in a pink shirt. No other info about description or circumstances, so far.
11:49 PM: No word of the child’s whereabouts yet, nor have police issued a bulletin asking for the public’s help. Listening back to police-radio discussion from before the helicopter dispatch caught our attention, they are looking into the possibility he’s with a family member other than the one who reported him missing.
12:04 AM: Police have just now tweeted the child’s photo and name.
12:23 AM: Per scanner, the aforementioned family member has told police she has the child and he’s safe.
12:47 AM: Police have confirmed in person that he’s OK.
3:03 PM: Thanks for the tips. The Guardian One helicopter is assisting police in a search for a suspect. We’re still trying to get details but police confirm it’s related to an assault. It happened near 6th and Kenyon. A victim is being taken to the hospital. More details as we get them.
3:16 PM: As noted in comments, K-9 is helping search too. They’re also extending the search east to West Marginal Way in case the attacker fled through the greenbelt.
3:31 PM: A little more info from police – who describe this as a “domestic-violence assault.” We don’t have a description but are going back through archived audio to see if one was put out over the air earlier.
4:13 PM: They’re still searching. Here’s the description from archived audio: Hispanic man, 20s, 6′, medium build, “full tattoo sleeve” on one arm, blue crew-neck shirt, tan shorts.
4:25 PM: Just in case you’re wondering – Guardian One is leaving, but the suspect remains at large.
7:20 PM: We’re covering the HPAC meeting, where Southwest Precinct Lt. Chris Johnson just said they know who the suspect is, and “there’s a whole lot of people looking for him.” The suspect, he said, had been arrested for a crime against the same victim, got out of jail, and attacked the same victim again.
9:13 AM: We learned this morning from Southwwst Precinct commander Capt. Kevin Grossman that the suspect is now in custody. (We are following up further on the case and the reported previous arrest.)
(Updated 8:13 pm with helicopter search)
Four West Seattle Crime Watch notes:
BUSINESS BURGLARY: Thanks for the tips about Whisky West‘s break-in. We haven’t been able to get the police report, but this afternoon we spoke with general manager Mike Sweet. He tells WSB it happened around 4:30 am Sunday. Two men whose faces weren’t visible due to masks and hoodies broke in through a side door and looked around – they didn’t seem to exhibit any familiarity with the restaurant/bar, but eventually found their way into the office, and stole the safe, which contained money to be distributed to the staff as holiday bonuses. They also took about $4,000 in liquor, some food, and keys they used to take a business truck (white 2007 Ford F-150). Sweet launched a crowdfunding account to try to replace the bonus money and says it’s had a good response already. Meantime, if you have any info, the police report number is 20-348992.
CAR SMASH-AND-GRAB: This happened to Peter in the 9700 block of 33rd SW:
He says it happened Saturday night: “Our car was broken into … parked right underneath a streetlight.”
STOLEN AND DUMPED? Susanna found this toolbox near a South Admiral corner:
She moved it out of the street onto the sidewalk, “out of the way of cars.” If it might be yours, let us know and we will pass along location info.
ADDED 8:13 PM – HELICOPTER SEARCH: Guardian One is in the area, assisting with a search in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, just uphill from West Marginal Way. According to radio communication, police are looking for a suspect in a harassment/threats case who is possibly armed with a knife. … The search is also covering Puget Ridge. We don’t have a description of the suspect, other than that he’s a juvenile. … (8:49 pm) The helicopter has moved on to another call. We don’t know the suspect’s status.
3:14 PM: Two Crime Watch reports:
NORTH SHOREWOOD INCIDENT: Avoid the 26th/107th [map] intersection for a while. King County Sheriff’s Deputies are swarming the area after a crash (updated) that followed gunfire from a car a short time ago; the intersection is blocked off. One person is reported to be in custody and another possible suspect is being sought. The Guardian One helicopter has just arrived in the area to help look. We have a crew on the way and will add more information as we get it.
3:27 PM: The helicopter involvement was short-lived. Deputies have described the car from which someone was shooting as a white BMW sedan. … We’re at the scene now, added a photo, working to find out how the injured people are doing. … 3:43 pm: The newly arrived helicopter is TV, not law enforcement. … 4:29 pm: The KCSO public-information sergeant is now at the scene so we should be able to get some updated info soon. The intersection is taped off, so that’s not likely to reopen for some time.
4:41 PM: We just talked to KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer. He says the car that was being shot at is a Toyota Corolla carjacked in Seatac (updated) on Saturday; it collided with two other cars at 26th/107th.
Two people were in the Corolla after the crash, 1 ran, and was subsequently found. All three plus two people from the other cars were hurt, but none by gunfire so far as authorities can tell. No major injuries. The car from which someone shot at the Corolla, after some kind of dispute, is still at large. The three people in the Corolla are described as in their teens. KCSO expects the intersection to be closed for at least 2 more hours. We have all this on video and will add that when our crew’s back. (added) Here it is:
7:35 PM: Nearby resident Jim says the vehicles are being towed, so the intersection might not be closed much longer.
Also in Crime Watch:
FREEWAY ATTACK: Andrew, who lives in Gatewood, sent the photos and report after an incident on I-5 southbound this past Sunday:
A chunk of concrete was intentionally thrown at our windshield. It was I-5 southbound carpool lane [north of the West Seattle Bridge]. I was going 50 mph.
It nearly killed me/us. My 13-year-old daughter was also with me, front passenger seat. This was a frisbee sized chunk of concrete. It went through the windshield 1″ from my right ear.
My phone was in the dash mount and was destroyed. The headliner is ruined. It went through the car and broke the tailgate glass and landed on the tailgate floor. I still have the chunk of concrete. It’s a amazing that we are alive and not injured. 5 other cars had debris thrown at them. I saw the guy on the shoulder of the road. Just behind the low concrete wall. He popped up and threw it at me from 50 feet or so in-front.
Andrew says the thrower was “wearing a black coat, black hat. He climbed up from below to stand on a ledge on the shoulder of the carpool lane. He was directly to my left when I went past him.” We have an inquiry out to the State Patrol about the investigation and other victims. If you have any information, Andrew says the report number is SP.00001131.
7:40 PM: Thanks for the texts. Guardian One was circling South Delridge/White Center for a while earlier this evening; just as we were headed out to look on the ground for any signs of a related response, the online flight tracker showed that the helicopter moved on. Then Mike saved the day by tweeting that he’d seen a sizable response in the O’Reilly Auto Parts lot at 17th/Roxbury. We were able to talk briefly to a King County Sheriff’s Office sergeant there; he told us they’re looking for a “fugitive” but would not elaborate further, aside from confirming that the helicopter presence was indeed related. We’re trying to find out more and will update if we do.
9:09 PM: KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott says the person they were seeking is “a homicide suspect wanted out of Seattle.”
This past Thursday night, in the 7-8 pm vicinity, a helicopter hovered very high over south West Seattle for a very long time. We received multiple texts asking about it – mostly from Westwood and Fauntleroy – and saw/heard it ourselves. Nothing showed on flight trackers, and various other inquiries went nowhere, so beyond a mention on Twitter, we didn’t write about it. But we kept checking around the next day, including with a regional FAA spokesperson, who told us today that the best he could find out was “this was some sort of law-enforcement operation.” Not local – we re-checked with the King County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the only law-enforcement helicopters in our area, and KCSO confirmed Guardian One wasn’t up at all Thursday night. The State Patrol operates fixed-wing aircraft, so it wasn’t them either.
Sorry that took a while to sleuth – we had to drive over and look around for an officer on the ground to find out why the Guardian One helicopter was over Arbor Heights. They were looking for a domestic-violence suspect in connection with a protection-order violation.
2:25 PM: We are at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point, where an Airlift Northwest medical helicopter has just landed for the second day of West Seattle drills with SFD.
It’s the same thing they did at Alki yesterday – but the weather’s worse. Updates to come.
2:50 PM: Helicopter has departed. 2 more drills – 2 pm tomorrow at Alki, Thursday at Walt Hundley. Spectators welcome, around the edges of the field.
ADDED 8:41 PM: More photos/video, with a closer look at the helicopter:
Firefighters had a training class before they came to the field for the drill.
SFD has said, air transfers are likely to be very rare if they happen at all- but in case of, say, a total transportation logjam at peak hour, without the West Seattle Bridge, the option needs to be available, and they need to be ready to assist.
Airlift Northwest offers memberships; we asked spokesperson Stephen LeMay about them. “Airlift Northwest membership works with insurance carriers to offset any remaining balance on an aeromedical bill, which can be very expensive. Patients with a membership will *not* receive a bill for their transport, or any services provided during the transport. Membership is *not* required to be eligible for transport. We will fly any patient in need to any hospital regardless of membership or payor status. Airlift Northwest provides over $2 million in charity care every year.”
2:32 PM: As previewed – the Seattle Fire/Airlift NW drill is under way at Alki Playfield, first of 4 drills in West Seattle this week.
2:41 PM: The helicopter has lifted off. Next drill, 2 pm tomorrow at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point. Viewing was OK today *around the edges of the field* so it should be tomorrow too.
ADDED 5:31 PM: More details, photos, and video:
Airlift Northwest (corrected) has a base in Bremerton – its helicopter can get here in as little as six minutes and carries trauma nurses as well as blood and plasma.
SFD plans to use the four drills – continuing 2 pm Tuesday and Thursday at Walt Hundley, back at Alki 2 pm Wednesday – for different local SFD crews to practice a helicopter transfer. Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon talked about it after today’s drill:
The helicopter was on the ground less than half an hour (longer, though, than it would have taken for an actual patient transfer).
SFD stresses that this kind of transport is expected to be rare – if it’s required at all – but they need to be ready just in case.
In case you missed our report Thursday night – here’s a reminder that Seattle Fire plans drills each of the next four afternoons to test landing a medical-airlift helicopter at local playfields to practice patient transfers that might occasionally be needed because of “extreme circumstances” during peak travel times. SFD is NOT inviting spectators but has been circulating notices so people nearby aren’t startled. The times are 2-3 pm each day at these locations:
June 8: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
June 9: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW
June 10: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
June 11: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW
It’ll be an unusual sight at Alki Playfield (above) and Walt Hundley Playfield during four afternoons next week when a helicopter lands for an emergency drill. The Seattle Fire Department has notified people near both fields about the plan, and one resident let us know about it – we’ve subsequently obtained from SFD the letter they are circulating:
The Seattle Fire Department is partnering with Airlift NW and Seattle Parks to provide airlift transport of patients during the West Seattle Bridge closure under extreme circumstances. This is occurring in response to the anticipated traffic impacts during peak travel times, which could delay SFD’s ability to provide transport via the typical method of a medic unit for critical patients. The frequency of helicopter transports is expected to be very low (only a few times per year, if any) but is an added capability of the fire department to serve West Seattle residents. Additionally, as previously announced, the department is dedicating an extra medic unit (Medic 26) and ladder truck (Ladder 13) during the bridge closure.
To prepare for this added helicopter capability, the department is holding a drill at the Alki and Walt Hundley Playfields in early June. From 2-3 p.m. at the below dates and locations, neighbors in the area will hear and see a helicopter land at the playfield, and firefighters simulate a patient transport hand-off.
• June 8: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
• June 9: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW
• June 10: Alki Playfield – 5817 SW Lander St.
• June 11: Walt Hundley Playfield – 6920 34th Ave. SW
The site will be secured by Seattle Fire and Police personnel. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the fire department encourages residents to not gather at the site, but instead watch the activities from the livestream on Facebook on the first day of the drill June 8, or from your doorstep.
As we reported earlier this week, the added SFD units mentioned above are now on duty. Meantime, SFD tells us they’ll have more to say about the helicopter drill plan tomorrow.
10:55 PM: SFD and SPD are responding to the 4800 block of Erskine Way for a report of a 20-year-old man with a gunshot wound. No other details yet.
11:03 PM: Police report being told this was the result of some kind of altercation/confrontation. The victim is being taken to the hospital.
11:12 PM: Police are looking for a suspect, described only, so far, as a “white male with a shaved head.”
11:27 PM: The Guardian One helicopter is assisting with the search.
11:42 PM: The search is ranging over a fairly wide area. Meantime, police are checking security video at the 7-11 to see if it has anything that’ll help.
11:54 PM: The victim was in serious condition when transported, SFD spokesperson David Cuerpo tells WSB. He also says the victim is 32, which is a change from the original radio exchange describing him as 20.
1:08 PM THURSDAY: Our inquiry to SPD has been answered by this SPD Blotter post, but the only new info is that the suspect is still out there somewhere:
At approximately 10:45 PM, officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 4800 block of Erskine Way SW. When they arrived they found the victim in a parking lot, with a gunshot wound to his chest. Officers immediately performed first aid until they were relieved by the Seattle Fire Department medics, who transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center.
Officers interviewed witnesses at the scene who stated that it appeared that the victim and another man were in an argument just prior to the shooting. The suspect fled. A K-9 team responded and attempted a track, but the suspect was not located.
10:23 PM: Though this ss NOT related to a helicopter some reported hearing over the Admiral area a bit earlier, the Guardian 1 helicopter is currently over Highland Park/Puget Ridge, helping police track a suspect who is reported to be wanted for eluding. (The helicopter’s track before this was in south King County, so the Admiral reports remain a mystery.)
10:30 PM: According to radio exchanges, this all started in Kent. The search has now moved on to Westwood, where police have converged on a reportedly related vehicle.
10:42 PM: Kent Police are reported to be on the way too, and a possible hit-run crash along the way on Puget Ridge is factoring into all this too.
11:02 PM: One clarification in the Guardian One crew’s post-departure tweet – they report the suspect “abandoned [the first] car in West Seattle and got into another car.”
ADDED THURSDAY AFTERNOON: We asked Kent PD for more details, and Cmdr. Robert Hollis replied:
Around 2200 hours on 05/20/2020, a on-duty Kent Officer noticed a red vehicle driving at a high rate of speed eastbound in the 10200 block of SE 240th St. The officer was able to catch up with the vehicle and when he activated his lights and siren, the suspect vehicle started driving away at a high rate of speed. Officers pursued the vehicle until speeds became too great and stopped pursuing the vehicle. Because King County Guardian One was up and following the vehicle, officers determined they could stop and locate the suspect at a later time. … Our officer did take the suspect into custody for Eluding.