A man shot and killed Saturday after authorities say he attacked a stranger in Westlake Plaza was one of 70 dangerously mentally ill people...
A man shot and killed Saturday after authorities say he attacked a stranger in Westlake Plaza was one of 70 dangerously mentally ill people in King County.
Since his release from prison four years ago, Daniel Culotti had been under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections (DOC) and Seattle Mental Health, according to the DOC. As with others who were ruled a Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender (DMIO) after their release from incarceration, the state earmarked $10,000 to pay for Culotti’s housing, medications and therapy necessary for his first five years outside of prison.
The Department of Corrections said Culotti, 25, complied with his therapy. However, he failed two drug tests shortly after his release from prison in October 2002 and told his probation officer he had used crack cocaine regularly “to help ease the stress,” according to a community custody report filed in King County Superior Court.
“Mr. Culotti also has mental health needs and his history shows that use of drugs can cause him to become psychotic,” his caseworkers wrote.
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Culotti was sentenced to prison after he assaulted his mother and burned down her Seattle home in 2001.
According to Seattle police, Culotti assaulted a man in Westlake Plaza shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday in what is believed to be an unprovoked attack.
The victim of the attack, identified by police as a 52-year-old man, pulled out a .357-caliber revolver and fired one round, striking Culotti in the abdomen. Culotti later died.
The 52-year-old had a concealed-weapons license and was in legal possession of the handgun, police said. He was questioned by police after the shooting and later released.
Police have not named the man.
The shooter, whose last two known addresses were homeless shelters in Seattle and Federal Way, could not be found for comment Tuesday. His last known address is at the Compass Center, a Seattle shelter and social-services facility for the homeless and low-income people, according to public records.
A police spokeswoman said Tuesday that the investigation into the shooting had been completed and forwarded to prosecutors, but King County prosecutors did not say Tuesday whether a charging decision had been made. It will be up to prosecutors to determine whether the shooting was in self-defense.
In July 2001, Culotti attacked his mother, Melinda Culotti, inside the family’s former residence on Palatine Avenue North in Seattle and set the house on fire. Culotti’s mother, who operated a child-care facility in the home, and seven children escaped unharmed.
Culotti later pleaded guilty to first-degree arson and was sentenced to slightly less than two years in prison.
According to the Department of Corrections, Culotti served approximately nine months in prison before he was released in October 2002 with time off for good behavior.
Trish Blanchard, chief clinical officer for Seattle Mental Health, wouldn’t talk about Culotti specifically, but she said the DMIO treatment program has received national accolades.
“The majority of the people we serve are able to make that transition into stable housing, employment and treatment,” Blanchard said. “It’s a long-term investment about a way to provide care for some individuals who are vulnerable and need a lot of transitional community living skills.”
The DMIO program was created by the state Legislature in 1999 as a way to identify and provide treatment for mentally ill offenders who are being released from the Department of Corrections, Blanchard said. The potential DMIO candidates are identified by corrections officials and a state oversight committee decides who receives the DMIO status, she said.
Seattle Mental Health offers varying levels of care for each DMIO patient, Blanchard said.
One person who met Culotti at a drug- and alcohol-treatment center this spring said that despite Culotti’s struggle with addiction and other demons, he was charismatic, intelligent and hopeful for the future.
Culotti attended a 28-day treatment program at a county facility on 18th Avenue South and South Massachusetts Street, the man said. When Culotti and the man graduated at the end of May, Culotti “was still struggling with it [his crack addiction] but there were moments he was hopeful that he would succeed.”
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.