In February of 2019 Seattle business leaders commissioned a report which found that the cities 100 most prolific offenders, all of them homeless and showing signs of drug addiction, had been involved in more than 3,500 separate cases. The report made clear that this isn’t the total number of crimes these offenders had committed, this is merely the times they were caught. But getting caught doesn’t mean much in Seattle. Today, KOMO News reports that in the nine months since that report was released, 90 of the 100 prolific offenders mentioned in the report have been arrested, many of them more than once.
The Downtown Seattle Association helped produce that report, which KOMO told you about in the special Seattle Is Dying.
New figures from DSA show those 90 offenders have been booked into jail 264 times within nine months, including one woman with nine bookings alone…
[Mayor] Durkan announced the four programs in September. They seek to address the ongoing issue of repeat offenders and high barrier individuals.
Mayor Durkan included $2.9 million for the programs in her recent budget proposal. But as of now, the council is only set to approve one when they vote to finalize the budget next week.
It’s not clear from the story what prompted the 264 arrests but one of them involved an assault on a toddler.
Back in April there was a very public spat in Seattle over the case of a homeless man named Francisco Calderon who was on the list of 100 prolific offenders. Calderon was in court on this particular occasion for punching a complete stranger in the mouth. He pleaded guilty, making this his 72nd conviction for a crime. Despite this, City Attorney Pete Holmes made a plea deal with the public defender which would allow Calderon to get probation and drug treatment instead of jail time. But Calderon’s record was so extensive and violent that Judge Ed McKenna balked:
“As a judge, I have a duty and responsibility to protect the citizens of Seattle and impose a sentence that I think is going to provide protection,” McKenna said in court. “I don’t think this court is willing to risk having someone else assaulted.”
In response, City Attorney Holmes lashed out publicly at Judge McKenna for the “extraordinary sentence” of 364 days in jail. Holmes even claimed Judge McKenna had invited members of a local residents group which wants tougher action on the homeless to his courtroom so they could watch him get tough on Calderon. That charge was false and the situation was so absurd that the Seattle Times wrote an editorial calling Holmes behavior a “political hit” and stating “McKenna is building confidence that his court is independent from the City Hall political machine that’s failing too often to provide safety and civility.”
But the real payoff to this story is that Judge McKenna was absolutely right about Calderon assaulting someone else. After serving 8 months of his 364-day sentence, Calderon was back on the street and the next person he assaulted was a toddler:
The latest incident happened in Downtown Seattle on July 20. Francisco Calderon, a homeless man, entered multiple businesses along the 500 block of Pine Street, causing disturbances and trying to start fights. He’s done this before.
According to witness accounts, outlined in a police report, Calderon grabbed a cup of coffee from a random passer-by and threw it in the face of a random toddler. The child’s father struck Calderon roughly six times, knocking him to the ground, when police arrived. He was arrested for assault 3 of a child.
The child was rushed inside the nearby GAP by his mom, where he was cleaned and treated in the store’s bathroom. The officer on-scene said the temperature of the coffee was unclear and it was “unknown if there was any biohazard component to the assault.” The child did not appear to be physically injured or burned, “but was not communicative and appeared to be staring off into space, possibly in shock.”
When questioned by police, Calderon said he “tripped, spilling the coffee” but the report indicates multiple witnesses contradict his claim. He was arrested, but spent the weekend in an area-hospital. It’s unclear why.
The police report is here. The exact age of the victim is redacted but the report says he was born in 2017, so we’re talking about a two-year-old. Luckily he wasn’t seriously hurt, but things could easily have been worse.
Even Calderon’s sister agreed that Judge McKenna had been “absolutely correct” to give her brother the maximum sentence earlier this year. He originally faced a felony for the attack on the toddler but that has been dropped to a misdemeanor, meaning he will, at most, face another year in jail. We’ll have to wait to see if City Attorney Pete Holmes tries to strike another plea deal on his behalf.
Assaults by the homeless make the news on a regular basis in Seattle. Today, there’s a report about a homeless man who threw a rock at a driver, smashing his window:
“I was at an intersection and saw a homeless guy, sort of to my left, across the street… yelling and acting up,” Taylor tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. For privacy, he asked that I not use his last name. “I didn’t really pay any attention to it as he was yelling… at the world… I didn’t think anything of it. Just sort of regular sort of homeless activity, I guess.”…
“My window explodes, my driver’s side window, [and I] feel huge thud in my shoulder,” Taylor explains. “My first reaction is ‘you’ve been shot.’ Like someone came up beside you and just shot you.”…
He soon realized what had happened: the homeless man threw a substantial rock through his window.
Earlier this month, a city worker named Kara Armatis was assaulted by a homeless man after leaving the city courthouse.
In early September, Kara was assaulted just outside the King County Courthouse after leaving work to head to the train.
Surveillance video shows a man cross the road, mumbling to himself. He steps in front of Kara, she goes around him, and then he hits her in the back of the head, leaving Kara with a concussion…
Seattle police statistics pulled last month show more than 160 assaults near the courthouse so far this year, which is right on par with 2018.
Assaults by homeless people are more common than many people realize. As I pointed out recently, there were more than 2,700 arrests of homeless people for assault in Los Angeles County last year. The number is expected to be higher this year.
Of course not all of the arrests of Seattle’s prolific offenders involve assault. Many likely involve theft which is another crime that has real victims. City residents rely on police and the City Attorney to deal with this problem, but in Seattle it’s just a progressive merry-go-round with no sign of improvement.