West Seattle, Washington
One more event today, in addition to the previously published long list of what’s happening: Our area’s representative on the Seattle Public Schools board, Leslie Harris, tells WSB she’ll be at High Point Library for her next community conversation, 3-5 pm at High Point Library. Harris is also the board’s president and notes there’s much to talk about, so you’re invited to drop in – 3411 SW Raymond.
Thanks to the readers who messaged us, wondering about a police response in High Point. They mentioned seeing officers in multiple locations, so we went looking around and found police near 34th/Graham. They told us this was related to a stolen car and suspects being taken into custody who might be linked to robbery cases. That’s all we have in the early going; we will have to follow up tomorrow to get full details.
And the winners were … everybody, one way or another! West Seattle Elementary hosted a state-qualifying chess tournament earlier this month. Chess program coordinator Ritchie Garcia shared photos and this report:
We had 120 participants from mostly 1st to 6th grade. The event had students from more than 40 Seattle-area schools. Over 30 kids qualified to participate in the state tournament that will take place later this year in Tacoma.
In the 1st -3rd grade section, the top schools were Genesee Hill, Stevens, and Wedgwood elementary leading the group. In the 4th – 6th section the top winning schools were West Seattle Elementary, Cascadia Elementary, and Washington Middle School coming in first place. Parents expressed their gratitude for having a state qualifying tournament nearby.
Hosting the event at West Seattle Elementary allows our school to open registration to our lower-income student population for free. Our school also offers a free chess club twice a week to our students. The tournament proceeds help fund the chess program and give more opportunities to our student population.
West Seattle Elementary is hoping to make this a yearly event. WSE is one of the schools that will receive a facilities upgrade due to the recent passing of the levies. It will improve the event in future years as the spacing is very tight for students throughout the year as well as the event.
On the second day since the closure of the West Seattle Pizza Hut at 6501 35th SW (as previewed here two weeks ago), we went by to look for signs of the space’s future. As our photo shows, the signage is already stripped; a dumpster’s in place on the south side of the building, but nobody is around to ask, and there’s still nothing in city files. The signage posted in the ex-restaurant’s windows says CLOSED, and nothing more. As originally pointed out in a comment on our previous story, Checkmate Dry Cleaners to the west also has closed (though its signage remains).
FIRST REPORT, 4:29 PM: Not long after multiple people called 911 to report hearing gunfire in the High Point area, police got a report of a damaged vehicle near 31st and Bataan. They’re investigating, but there’s no report of any injuries so far. Updates to come.
4:36 PM: Photos added. And our crew says the helicopter in the area is just TV.
5:37 PM: Per scanner, police are looking for a suspect, and the search has blocked some parts of the area.
5:54 PM: Also per scanner, a suspect is in custody, after an arrest outside West Seattle.
11:52 PM: The jail register shows the suspect, a 37-year-old man, was booked for investigation of drive-by shooting, unlawful gun possession, and assault.
ADDED THURSDAY: The incident was written up today on SPD Blotter.
FRIDAY NOTE: The suspect remains in jail, bail set at $150,000. We’ll be checking later today on whether he is charged.
8:07 AM: Seattle Fire and Police are at the scene of a crash in the 6700 block of 30th SW [map] in High Point. SFD says two people need to be extricated. Three medic units have been dispatched. More shortly.
8:18 AM: Metro has sent an alert that Route 128 is routed off Sylvan because of the crash. Per scanner, the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is responding to this, which means the scene will be closed for a few hours.
8:21 AM: Per scanner, two people are being taken to Harborview. Metro has routed Route 128 off Sylvan Way.
8:27 AM: Photo added – this is a two-car collision on Sylvan Way. Our crew was told a third person was taken to a hospital via private ambulance, and has confirmed that TCI is responding.
10:37 AM: The street shouldn’t be closed too much longer – per scanner, we just heard that the tow trucks have arrived and SDOT’s Incident Response Team is being requested to return for scene cleanup.
11:58 AM: Just confirmed firsthand that Sylvan has reopened and tge 128 is back on its regular route.
You are likely more used to seeing Tyler Lockett in a Seahawks uniform – but today the wide receiver was decked out in a T-shirt promoting the Book It! reading initiative as he visited West Seattle Elementary, where those welcoming him enthusiastically included principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers:
Lockett read to the students, of course:
The book “Secret Pizza Party” by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri synergized with the fact that Book It! is sponsored by Pizza Hut, which takes the program to thousands of elementary schools around the country every year.
In case you’re wondering about the big SFD response – what brought them to a house in the 6400 block of 30th SW just now turned out to be smoke from “an oven that was left on,” per radio communication. The response is being mostly canceled.
The last 2 stories we covered Friday night before the power outage both involved Christmas lights. Now that the power has stabilized – on with the reports … and the lights:
Click the “play” button in the Instagram window and you’ll see the lighting of Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s big tree outside the church for the first time in five years. Here’s another view:
The parish and school have continued to host a “Light Up the Night” celebration each year, throwing the switch on lights around the grounds and singing Christmas carols, but it wasn’t quite the same. Emcee Brian Callanan thanked the OLG CYO for bringing back the tree lights, which are brighter than we ever remember. The celebration included caroling as always:
And food donations were collected in the sleigh in the lobby of the Walmesley Center:
The tree is on the southeast corner of 35th/Myrtle, near the highest elevation in Seattle city limits, so it’s considered to be Seattle’s highest-elevation Christmas tree.
Two months after we last checked on Upton Flats – the mixed-use development at 35th SW/SW Graham in High Point – its management has announced a “grand opening” event for this weekend. They’re inviting people to stop by for a look at the ~100-apartment complex Saturday or Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and they’re promising beer and snacks. No confirmed tenants yet for the retail space, though; as we’ve reported previously, Seattle Housing Authority offices will occupy about 80 percent of the complex’s commercial space.
6:08 PM: Sylvan Way is blocked both ways by a crash in the 6900 block [map] that briefly drew a sizable SFD “extrication” response. Everybody’s out, per radio communication. More info to come.
6:17 PM: Police are searching for someone in connection with this and the Guardian One helicopter has joined the search. Our crew says apparently one of the drivers fled – two vehicles were involved. Two children are hurt and will be taken to a hospital.
6:29 PM: We’re told the children’s mom also will be taken to a hospital. But none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.
6:52 PM: Police have detained a man near 25th/Myrtle.
7:03 PM: We’ve confirmed with police that the man is being questioned in connection with the crash; G-1 has tweeted that, too.
7:26 PM: Our crew tells us Sylvan has reopened.
11:56 PM: SPD says the man was arrested for suspected DUI as well as hit-run.
1:18 AM: Husband/dad of pregnant woman and kids hit by the suspected drunk driver says in a comment that they’ll be OK.
Giving Tuesday also happens, this year, to be that day in the holiday season when Nucor delivers big gifts of donated food and money to the West Seattle Food Bank. We were there for this morning’s delivery:
The annual gifts are a partnership between the steel mill and its employees – who donate food and cash, which then is matched (and then some) by Nucor.
Above are WSFB executive director Fran Yeatts, Nucor’s Stephanie Sanchez, and WSFB development director Judi Yazzolino, who summarizes:
On this Giving Tuesday, nothing could be more generous than Nucor Steel delivering their check for $17,500 and 3520 pounds of food from their annual employee food drive. The West Seattle Food Bank has such an appreciation for everything Nucor does for not only the food bank but for all the non-profits in West Seattle. They are such a wonderful community partner. Thank you to their employees and to Omega Morgan Machinery for helping deliver and unload all of the food.
You can of course donate to the WSFB year-round – here’s how. (And keep an eye on the DONATION DRIVES list in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide – there are places you can donate during the season, such as the bin out front at West Seattle Lights!)
From Seattle Public Utilities:
SPU crews are planning to do a hydrant flow test tonight near 6537 35th Ave SW, between 11 PM and 5 AM. The test is conducted at night to minimize impacts to customers. Crews will run water from a hydrant to test the volume coming out of the pipe to ensure there is adequate fire flow protection.
Any time there is a disturbance in the water main, discolored water can happen. Customers can visit our website for information about discolored water. If the problem persists, customers can call Seattle Public Utilities’ 24/7 Operations Response Center at 206-386-1800.
Late-breaking news from the West Seattle Timebank: The man who founded and leadsTimeBanks USA will be in West Seattle on Sunday (September 30th), and you’re invited to meet him. Dr. Edgar Cahn also is a legal professor and served as a speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy, among other roles on his resumé. Timebanking is growing locally and this is your chance to learn about its history and its future, 1-2:30 pm Sunday at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Refreshments provided; everyone welcome!
2:41 AM: Just checked this out after a tip. SFD and all but one Seattle Police officer had already cleared the scene in the 7100 block of 29th SW. SPD says it was a “person in crisis” situation and that the person has been taken to the hospital. We’ll add any followup information we get later.
12:53 PM: Update from SFD: The person who was transported was taken to the hospital in stable condition with what was determined to be a self-inflicted wound.
Upton Flats – the High Point mixed-use development at 35th SW/SW Graham – “isn’t as close to complete as you might think.” That’s what Seattle Housing Authority spokesperson Kerry Coughlin told us when we checked in after receiving multiple recent e-mails wondering about its status. Coughlin explained, “The developer is facing the same issues that a lot of construction projects are right now. It’s difficult to get certain subcontractors, which creates delays.” Most of those e-mailing us to ask about the project’s status were particularly curious about its commercial space. As we’ve reported previously, most of it will become offices for SHA; Coughlin says that will total about 5,300 square feet, and they’re now expecting to move into that space next summer. No tenant yet for the retail space, about 1,200 square feet. In addition to those spaces and the ~100 apartments, which Coughlin says are still under construction, Upton Flats will include a “nearly 3,000-sf community room with kitchen and restrooms.” (If you’re interested in more information about the 6058 35th SW project, here’s our report from its final Southwest Design Review Board meeting in 2016.)
6:03 PM: A “full response” from Seattle Fire is arriving in High Point, at an apartment building in the 6000 block of Lanham [map]. More to come.
6:06 PM: Firefighters say it’s a kitchen fire; they’ll be ventilating.
6:19 PM: Added a photo from our crew at the scene, where they’ve confirmed the fire’s out. No one hurt.
Today marked the third year of a unique welcome for West Seattle Elementary students on their first day back to school – community members greeting them with a “Be There Rally.”
It’s a tradition in many places around the U.S., where the call goes out for community members to “be there” for the students as they start a new year of studying.
The students get high-fives and cheers as they enter the school on a red carpet.
West Seattle Elementary continues to grow, with a projected enrollment of more than 450 this year. And principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers says its students’ successes continue growing too:
That’s Mayor Jenny Durkan standing next to her – also there in support of the students, School Board president Leslie Harris:
But this was an event where the real VIPs were the students and everyone there to show them the community cares:
Side note: While Wednesdays are usually early-release days at Seattle Public Schools, today is a full day around the district.
It’s been a couple weeks since we first mentioned this, so one more reminder before Wednesday arrives … the new school year starts at West Seattle Elementary at 7 am tomorrow (Wednesday, September 5th) with the “Be There Rally.” You’re invited to be part of the line of people “dressed for success” and welcoming students with high-fives, applause, and cheers as they arrive. More backstory in our August preview. The school is at 6760 34th SW.
Next week is the last full week of summer break for students who aren’t already back at school, and the Seattle Public Library is starting it off by inviting you to “a special West Seattle-wide celebration of the end of summer!” It’s happening 4-7 pm Monday (August 27th) at High Point Library:
We will have family entertainment for little children, kids, tweens, and teens – everyone is welcome. There will be bubbles, a tinfoil boat competition, create and design your own t-shirt activity (for youth ages 11+), crafts, games, prizes and an ice cream sundae bar (starting at 6 pm) for all.
No charge, and no registration required – just show up! HP Library is at 3411 SW Raymond.
Thanks to Erin for the tip: The High Point Play Area relocation/renovation project is starting work. It’s been more than a year since the Seattle Parks open houses on this playground project – one of several in the works – so it fell off our radar. The project website has full details, noting that the $700,000 project will more than quadruple the playground’s size while also improving safety and accessibility. The contractor is LW Sundstrom.
3:37 PM: Just in from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: 16-year-old Loyan A. Ahmed has been charged as an adult in the shooting death last Thursday night of 37-year-old Taylor Fehlen. He is charged with second-degree murder and unlawful gun possession. We don’t have the charging documents yet but we have the probable-cause document, from which the following is taken, with all but suspect and victim names redacted. It also reveals what preceded the murder:
On August 09, 2018 at approximately 2309 hours, Seattle Police Officers responded to a shooting at 35 Ave SW and SW Morgan Street. Officers arrived and located a victim down on the ground suffering from gunshot wounds. Witnesses told them that after shooting the victim multiple times the armed male suspect ran northeast across 35 Ave SW. The victim was lying on the sidewalk near the northwest comer of the intersection.
Seattle Fire Medics transported the victim to Harborview Medical Center where he died from his injuries. The victim was identified as 37-year-old Taylor C. Fehlen. Homicide detectives were called to the scene.
Metro Coach #7003 was parked beside where the victim fell. Officers located several shell casings and the Coach appeared to have been struck by gunfire. Officers learned that the victim and the suspect had both been passengers on board the Metro Coach.
Witnesses consistently described the shooter as a young Black male, wearing a dark colored hoodie and long pants. Officers scoured the area immediately but did not find the suspect. An SPD Police Dog (PD) verified witness testimony that the suspect ran to the NE, across 35th Ave SW, through a parking lot of a Walgreens drug store. During the determined PD search, a semi-automatic firearm was discovered in some shrubs on the east side of that store. The gun was out-of-battery as if it had recently been used. A single bullet was “stove-piped” in the firing chamber.
The caliber and brand of ammunition in the gun were the same as those found at the shooting scene. The PD also alerted to on fenced yards east of the alley but the suspect was not located. Detectives determined that the Metro Coach was equipped with security cameras that recorded the incident.
A review of that footage showed the suspect boarded the Coach at 16 Ave SW and SW Roxbury. When he boarded the coach, he paid for his fare by “tapping” his ORCA card. During their investigation, detectives leamed the card had been issued to Loyan A. Ahmed … The victim, and several other passengers were already on board. Ahmed sat directly behind the driver. To the ire of the passengers, Ahmed repeatedly pulled the stop cord on the coach. The driver stopped the coach each time but Ahmed didn’t disembark. The driver and passengers, including the victim, expressed their anger at Ahmed. Ahmed and the victim quarreled … After this occurred the Ahmed appeared to ready himself by deliberately dawning his hood, synching the drawstring to conceal his face and by tucking in his pant legs. As the coach neared the intersection of 35 Ave SW and SW Morgan Street the victim raised from his seat and pulled the stop cord. Ahmed got up and moved to the back door where he manipulated something under his hoodie in his waistband. When the door opened, Ahmed got off, walked a short distance and waited for the victim. Ahmed yelled for the victim to get off the bus. The victim exited the front door and started walking toward Ahmed. Ahmed drew a handgun from his waist, shot the victim multiple times and ran off.
Still images depicting the suspect were disseminated to local media.
Detectives obtained a recent school photo of Ahmed and he matched the suspect depicted in the Metro video. Further, they determined that Ahmed lived with his mother … The residence is blocks from the crime scene and in direct line with the suspect’s direction of travel from the scene.
Detectives were preparing to arrest Ahmed for the murder when his mother unexpectedly called 9ll. She reported that her juvenile soon wanted to talk to police about being a murder suspect. (A detective) called Ahmed’s mother … She informed me that she had seen images of her son on the West Seattle Blog and identified him as being the murder suspect. SPD SWAT responded to their residence where Ahmed was taken into custody without incident.
The suspect’s arraignment – initial hearing for entering a plea – is set for August 29th.
ADDED 3:56 PM: We now also have the charging documents, with the additional details that prosecutors requested $1 million bail and that the suspect has “no known criminal history.”