Seattle police bike officers have increased their patrols of the Beacon Hill neighborhood in response to the latest in nearly two dozen...
Seattle police bike officers have increased their patrols of the Beacon Hill neighborhood in response to the latest in nearly two dozen sexual attacks on Asian girls and women.
Police say the man has groped, chased and even knocked down 22 girls and women in Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill since August 2006. The victims have ranged from teenagers to a 52-year-old. No victim has been raped or critically injured, and police said the man normally runs off after his victims have screamed for help.
The attacks have left people in the area fearful.
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“I used to walk to the library, seven blocks in the evening, and I don’t feel comfortable doing that now,” said Shelly Bates, 39, a member of the North Beacon Hill Community Council. “You don’t want to live your life that way.”
Capt. Tom Byers, who oversees the department’s South Precinct, said the man is getting bolder in his attacks. On Thursday, the suspect deviated from his normal actions of attacking during the early morning or evening and groped a woman during the middle of the day.
Byers said police were surprised by Thursday’s attack because “we thought this guy went away.”
On Monday, Sgt. Ann Martin and another officer patrolled a stretch of Beacon Avenue South on bicycle. Martin said she doubts she will catch the man based solely on the description provided by witnesses because it is vague and “fits so many people.”
The man is described as black and in his 20s or 30s, about 150 pounds and between 5-feet-5 and 5-feet-9. The man has often worn a mask or hooded sweat shirt.
“We’re highly unlikely to catch this guy,” Martin said. “Our mission is to make people feel safe at bus stops and sidewalks.”
Because many of the attacks occurred at or near bus stops, King County Sheriff’s Office transit deputies are also assisting in the investigation.
Police said there have been five attacks this year alone. In January, the suspect grabbed and chased two girls ages 13 and 14.
“He mostly comes up and puts his hand over their mouths, knocks them to the ground or pulls them to the ground,” said police spokesman Jeff Kappel. “He proceeds to grab them and rub them on their private areas.”
Kappel said the man is easily “spooked” by women who scream or physically fight back. A wallet was stolen from one victim.
Alan Lai, crime-victim service director at the Chinese Information and Service Center in Seattle, said he has been warning women for months to take precautions. He said they have held two community meetings, one in December and one last week, about the attacks.
More than 100 people attended last week’s meeting, which included self-defense tactics.
“We are training people to be more alert, to yell and to be proactive; to call 911,” Lai said.
Beacon Hill Elementary School principal Susie Murphy said that when she learned of the most recent attack, she was compelled to ask police to speak at their PTSA meeting tonight. She said the meeting is open to the public.
“It’s important because we have 320 children here. We want to inform our school community about the facts,” Murphy said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org