In an apology to the family of Rebecca Griego, the chief of the University of Washington police said Tuesday that her department was wrong...
In an apology to the family of Rebecca Griego, the chief of the University of Washington police said Tuesday that her department was wrong when it said Griego was unwilling to testify against the man who stalked her and ultimately killed her Monday on campus.
The chief also declined to talk about whether her department notified a special threat-assessment team created seven years ago after a murder-suicide on the campus.
Police Chief Vicky Stormo said her department is still reviewing what, if anything, it could have done differently to stop Monday’s slaying. “There’s still a lot of questions,” she said
Sgt. David Girts, who represents the department on the assessment team, said he couldn’t explain why he wasn’t notified about Griego’s March 16 complaint against ex-boyfriend Jonathan Rowan.
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“It’s a situation we definitely would have addressed. We would have taken it very seriously,” Girts said. “However, there’s no way of saying it would have prevented what happened.”
Every department on campus has a responsibility to report direct threats to the college’s human resources office.
“I don’t believe it happened in this case, and I’m not sure exactly why,” Girts said.
The human resources office coordinates the work of the violence-prevention assessment group. Last year, the office conducted 20 assessments. The university’s Workplace Violence Policy defines threatening behavior as including “oral or written statements, harassing e-mail messages, harassing telephone calls, gestures and expressions or behaviors such as stalking.”
Griego sent an e-mail to co-workers on March 7, telling them Rowan knew where she worked. “He should not be considered dangerous to any of you, just me and my family,” she wrote.
Hours after Monday’s shooting, UW police initially told reporters Griego had declined to press charges against her stalker when she went to the Police Department with a copy of the protection order she obtained from King County Superior Court.
At the time, UW police said they might have been able to arrest Rowan for violating a domestic-violence protection order if Griego had been willing to testify against him.
But Tuesday, Stormo said Griego had indicated that she would be willing to help prosecute Rowan. She filled out a police report stating that her ex-boyfriend had called her at work on March 7 and March 14 and told her to “watch your back” and “I’m gonna kill you.”
The UW Police Department did assign a detective to help locate Rowan so he could be served the protective order. Seattle police also were contacted and tried to serve Rowan with the order, which prohibited him from coming close to her workplace or home. But Rowan couldn’t be found.
Griego “did everything a person can do,” UW Assistant Chief Ray Wittmier said. “She worked through the protective-order process. She reported additional incidents. … She tried to stay safe. She moved. … Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.”
Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or firstname.lastname@example.org