The tragic, fatal shootings that took place at a quaint coffee shop and parking lot in Seattle on May 30 can happen anywhere — big cities and smaller ones — says Kenmore Police Chief Cliff Sether.
Recently, Kenmore officers arrested a man who became angry and unveiled a handgun when he confronted the driver who allegedly cut him off in the Safeway parking lot.
“He slammed his fists on the hood of the person’s car and some words were exchanged. (The handgun) wasn’t pointed at the person, it was displayed,” said Sether, noting that the man was charged with second-degree assault and felony harassment. “It’s not real common, but it does happen occasionally. That’s why we always tell people that road-rage incidents can happen and weapons can come out over stupid stuff where just any little thing can trigger people’s anger. So you’ve got to just be very careful on how you respond and what you say to people.”
Also in Kenmore, Sether’s men recently arrested a man on a warrant, who also had a gun in his possession, inside of a tavern. He had a concealed-weapon permit, but, according to law, can’t carry a weapon inside an establishment that serves alcohol. The weapon violation was part of his arrest.
Over in Bothell on May 6, two men — one of whom brandished a handgun — led a night manager into the back office of the Yakima Fruit Market, tied him up and robbed the place. Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings called the Reporter while taking a break on May 31 and noted that her detectives and the North Sound Metro SWAT Team arrested three men in Kirkland and Lynnwood in connection with the robbery.
“This is big, it was a good case,” she said regarding the evidence detectives gathered, which included a cell phone that belonged to one of the suspects.
Cummings said the May 30 activities hit home because her daughter takes classes near where the shootings occurred. She spoke with Bothell officers about the events and the importance of their emergency response training that could come into play someday.
“This is something that we take very seriously,” Cummings said of the training.
As far as citizens go, she continued: “It just goes to show, you have to be alert, you have to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. You should be aware if something doesn’t look right, take the time to take another glance and ensure that it’s safe to go forward.” (She added that the May 30 victims may not have had the chance to react as such.)
Sether said the word “routine” doesn’t exist in police officers’ vocabulary because each time they respond to a call, there’s always the potential that weapons can be involved.
“We have a tremendous amount of people who carry concealed weapons that have concealed-weapon permits and so there are a lot of weapons out there,” Sether said. “You never know what you’re getting yourself into.”
Bothell and Kenmore officers’ training scenario features tactics and techniques to deal with a potential active shooter in the cities (most officers have AR 15 rifles, bulletproof vests, helmets and shields in their patrol cars). Bothell sports a Special Response Team to resolve critical incidents, and Kenmore’s active-shooter patrol team trains with officers in Woodinville and Shoreline to prepare for emergencies and to aid one another if trouble arises.
Both Kenmore and Bothell can call upon the King County and North Sound Metro SWAT teams, respectively, as well; the North Sound squad features personnel from Bothell, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Monroe.
Over on 19th Drive Southeast in Bothell, resident Richard Dowling is trying to get a block watch going in his neighborhood and had the Seattle shootings and other events on his mind on a recent morning.
“With accidents, kidnappings and shootings, it’s getting out of control,” he said, also referring to a pair of major car wrecks on State Route 522 in Kenmore over the last few months.
Senior pastor Phil McCallum of Evergreen Community Church in Bothell was faced with questions from his congregation about why someone would go on a shooting spree and kill innocent people.
“The important thing for churches is that we engage the questions that are on people’s minds — not to talk about it would be foolish,” he said last week.
In his Sunday sermon on June 3, McCallum first put a picture of gunman Ian Stawicki up on the church’s large video screen and then used the Bible’s Book of Proverbs to guide his lesson to the people.
McCallum said people winced and he could see pain on their faces when they viewed the photo. Some churchgoers worked near where the shootings occurred and were still in shock at the events, he added.
“I just made the point, we have a society where common sense is not all that common and it seems that insanity is taking over — where can we find wisdom?” he said. “And then we began the process of how does a person who is gullible, walking through life not really thinking about the choices they make, turn into a person of wisdom?”
McCallum answered his own question, noting that people who are off course in life should gather all their fears and point them toward God for guidance.
In general, the pastor said that it helps to have a community of caring people in one’s life during trying times. Getting outside in the light of day can also help one clear their mind and search for positivity, he said.
In addition to himself, McCallum said that Chuck Goodwin, police and fire chaplain for the city of Bothell, is one of the pastors at Evergreen and has a good rapport with churchgoers in times of tragedy.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Cascadia Community College instructor David Ortiz and his Bothell students focused their Humanities 150 class discussion on the shootings the following day.
The insightful talk dealt with where Stawicki got the guns, why he went on the shooting rampage and whether nearby University of Washington-Seattle students received text alerts about what was happening at Cafe Racer on Roosevelt Avenue, Ortiz said.
“We always debrief our students when something tragic happens in the community … 9/11, a severe storm or a terrorist threat,” Ortiz said. “We try to calm students down and talk them through it.”
Ortiz saw the situation as a good time to discuss safety procedures at the school, as well, and he feels that people in business buildings and public offices should also review their safety plans.
Even though the shootings weren’t near the Cascadia/UW-Bothell campus, Ortiz said students still felt an impact with the day’s events.
“It’s always close to home. We live in such a commuter society in that we go in between cities daily,” he said.