Marijuana and more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

May 9th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center news 5 Comments »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

A long-hot topic was discussed relatively calmly at this month’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, held May 2nd at NH Fire District HQ.

MARIJUANA: Jim Chan and Warren Clauss from the county came to talk about the new report (which you can see here or embedded below).

New sub-area planner Jay Hill was in the audience as were planner David Goodman and external-relations manager David Dow – a White Center resident – from the Department of Local Services. The staffer who put together the report now works for the county council, which Chan said declined the request for his attendance.

To date, the council hasn’t taken any action on the report, Chan said. The report said that no further zone areas need to be added for marijuana activity. But it acknowledged the inequitable distribution of marijuana businesses and recommended a cap. The subarea plan for West Hill recommends an even lower cap – two. Existing businesses would be grandfathered, though.

However, NHUAC president Liz Giba wondered, isn’t it unlikely that any of the existing stores – six in unincorpoated NH -are going to close? Clauss acknowledged, that’s true, their sales are all doing well. He thinks more favorable conditions elsewhere might ultimately pull them away. Chan said the Legislature likely didn’t expect that some communities would ban marijuana, and that has led to some of the inequitable distribution. But wouldn’t limiting sales in this area add to the marginalization of disadvantaged communities who had been disproportionately prosecuted pre-legalization? asked Aaron Garcia from the White Center Community Development Association. Good question, said Chan. Garcia also wondered about marijuana businesses seeking to expand the types of merchandise they offer. There are strict limits, he was told.

The report addressed a variety of types of data, but some of the sample sizes were too small to “make accurate conclusions,” Clauss noted.

As for where the tax dollars go, there is an inequity but it’s a state issue, the county reps noted – the county only gets back $2 million. That is split fairly evenly between public health and public safety. Giba wondered if some of the money could be funneled back to “keeping things clean” – the streets, for example.

The marijuana businesses aren’t any more of a crime magnet than other types of businesses, KCSO Deputy Bill Kennamer noted when the talk turned to that issue. The report looks at those stats, added Clauss.

Would grandfathering allow for example one family member to pass to another? Chan didn’t know, but another rep present didn’t think so.

So the bottom line is that to change things would require putting pressure on state legislators? Yes, was the reply. But in terms of the county, watch for announcements of sub-area-plan meetings.

Want to see the report? If you can’t download it, you can request it from asklocalservices@kingcounty.gov

SIDE NOTE: Before the county reps left, an attendee brought up a loud party along 17th SW last weekend. Deputy Kennamer said noise complaints are becoming more common and he’s still figuring out how to address it.

CRIME UPDATE: The deputy had his own spotlight shortly thereafter. In crime trends – burglaries are down, auto thefts are up. “We’re getting a lot of cars stolen that are then used in crimes of violence.” One-third of the 100 Part I crimes – auto thefts. All the violent crimes have been solved quickly.

Do we know why the burglar who was shot and killed by a White Center resident chose that house? Kennamer said, no, but it’s worth noting that there’s a “problem house” on the other side of the street. They’re still not 100 percent certain about whether someone else was involved; that’s pending blood analysis.

Regarding marijuana businesses, as discussed earlier in the meeting, “none are any worse” – Nimbin’s had a few drive-through burglaries, Star had a shooting, but otherwise he said they were no more of a draw for crime than liquor stores.

A few other notes: One of the recent gunfire incidents in downtown WC had 45 rounds fired.

Got a nuisance house? Work with code enforcement.

One attendee pointed out that the businesses on the west side of 17th near 98th had suffered burglaries and theft. It might not have been reported to KCSO yet; Deputy Kennamer was asked to stop by and check on them.

Asked about emphasis patrols, he mentioned WC and Burien are having ongoing Thursday-Friday-Saturday overtime-funded patrols along the 16th/Ambaum corridor.

Despite the trouble spots, WC is far better than it was, say, 20 years ago, Kennamer reiterated.

WATER DISTRICT MERGER: Water District 45 is merging into WD 20 as a result of the recent election, commissioner Russ Pritchard reminded everyone. This means lower bills for District 45’s former customers. Involved are 10,415 service connections and 1,500 hydrants serving about 45,000 residents, he said. The old District 45 HQ will be sold; an appraiser just came out. So it’s not vacant pre-sale, the Highline Bears baseball team is temporarily headquartered there.

14th/120th has a “secret” underground reservoir, holding about 8 million gallons, he also noted, and now it’s part of District 20, which is headquartered at 1st S. and 126th.

HIGHLINE BEARS: GM Justin Moser spoke to NHUAC, opening by recalling baseball’s heyday in the community, and saying they want to bring “entertainment and fun” to the community. Ticket prices are no higher than $8. Opening night is June 1st, 7 pm, and County Councilmember Joe McDermott will throw out the first pitch. The team has 27 home games and will even have a “Christmas in July” night in which the players will wear ugly sweaters and throw out a first snowball instead of a first pitch. Their players, who come from college baseball, will be giving back to local communities via street cleanups and other volunteer activities.

COALITION FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH: Rudy Garza spoke about the event coming up tonight (May 9th) – here’s the official invitation. Speakers will include Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta and State Senator Joe Nguyen.

LIBRARY UPDATE: KCLS’s Angie Benedetti said, “There’s nothing I like better than opening a meeeting with good news.” That news – Boulevard Park Library is reopening May 18th, with a 9:30 am ribbon-cutting ceremony. She shared the branch’s history going back more than three quarters of a century, when it was one room with a little over 500 books. She said it retains its classic architectural charms but has new rooms and a piece of art by Barbara Earl Thomas, glass walls telling the story “The Secret Reader.” Benedetti also shared some recent anecdotes including a “Box Drive-In” a week ago in which 100 little kids made cars out of boxes and got to watch a movie. NHUAC president Giba recalled that there was a time when the community was in danger of losing the library.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Wendell Davis noted that the White Center Warriors wrestling team, which meets at Chief Sealth IHS, has a world champion – 17-year-old Dustin Camacho. ….On May 24th, New Start High School Key Club wll have a car wash at the school, and at a TBA date in June, the Evergreen High School Key Club will have one too, said Aaron Garcia … 6/15, an Art Walk will coincide with the first-ever White Center Pride event.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets 7 pm first Thursdays most months at the NH Fire District HQ.

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More drive-by gunfire on 16th SW in White Center

April 22nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 3 Comments »

Deputies are investigating drive-by gunfire for the second time in 3 days on 16th SW in White Center. This time, it happened closer to SW 100th; investigators are parked further north in our photo because they were checking cameras on businesses further north, as the vehicle from which the shots were fired – believed to be a “black car” – was northbound. No injuries reported, and no damage found as of when we talked to investigators, who said they had no indication whether it was or was not related to the gunfire on Saturday.

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UPDATE: Deadly shooting in White Center

April 22nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 4 Comments »

11:18 AM: We’re awaiting a King County Sheriff’s Office news release about the deadly shooting widely covered by regional media very early this morning. Early information indicated that a man woke up before 3 am in the 9800 block of 13th Avenue SW and discovered an intruder; he shot and killed the persoo. Deputies used a K9 team to search for another possible suspect but didn’t find anyone. We’ll add the KCSO news release once it’s in.

3:57 PM: The news release from KCSO has just arrived:

Early this morning, 04/22/2019 about 2:40 AM near the 9800 block of 13th Ave. SW, White Center, a homeowner who was home alone woke to the sound of a sound of a window shattering in the kitchen area of his house and a short time later footsteps inside his house. The 35 year old homeowner immediately called 911 and armed himself with a handgun. The homeowner hid in his closet while waiting for Deputies to arrive. Prior to Deputies arriving on-scene, the 29 year old suspect opened the bedroom door and was shot by the homeowner. The suspect died at the scene. There may have been a second suspect, but so far the investigation has not uncovered any evidence of the second suspect.

King County Major Crimes Detectives continue to investigate.

ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The man who was killed is identified as Joseph Anderson, cause of death described as “multiple gunshot wounds.”

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WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Downtown gunfire

April 20th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 9 Comments »

(WCN photos)

3:12 PM: Thanks for the tips about gunfire in downtown White Center along 16th SW south of SW 98th. We went over to check and found deputies investigating what they said was bullet damage to that vehicle. No injuries reported. The gunfire is reported to have come from another vehicle but they didn’t have a description to share, so we have a followup inquiry out seeking more info when available.

3:27 PM: KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott says “multiple” casings were found and that what happened here was a case of “two vehicles fired at each other, missing. A minivan traveling northbound unrelated was hit; thankfully none of the occupants were hit or injured.”

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$750,000 bail for rape suspect

April 4th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on $750,000 bail for rape suspect

A judge set bail at $750,000 today for the man suspected of raping a woman last December in a vehicle in the 11400 block of 5th Avenue S. The King County Sheriff’s Office said the woman had gotten into the vehicle in Ballard believing it was the ride-share vehicle she had summoned. Video disseminated earlier this week led to the 34-year-old man’s arrest.

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FOLLOWUP: Suspect charged, sought in stabbing that preceded White Center crash

March 30th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Suspect charged, sought in stabbing that preceded White Center crash

(WCN photo, March 20th)

A week and a half ago, we reported on that White Center crash, with a stabbing victim found in the wrecked car. Today, the King County Sheriff’s Office reports a suspect has been identified and charged – and they need your help finding him:

On 3/20/2019 at about 2:25 PM, a 55 year old man was in a minor vehicle collision with a fence and pole at the 1700 block of SW 98th in White Center. When Deputies arrived, they found the victim had been stabbed multiple times and his throat cut. The victim was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. The victim survived, but is still recovering.

The suspect in this attack has been identified by King County Major Crimes Detectives as Daniel Varela AKA “Capone,” a 42 year old man listed at 5’9 and 175 pounds.

Varela has been charged by the King County Prosecutor’s Office with 1 count of Assault 1. A felony warrant has been issued for Varela; the bail amount is 1 million dollars.

If you know of Varela’s location please call 911. Do not attempt to contact him; he is considered armed and dangerous.

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Stabbing investigation near 24th and 112th

March 25th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 4 Comments »

Thanks for the tips about a police search that included presence at 26th and Roxbury. We’ve learned from the King County Sheriff’s Office that a man was stabbed near 24th Place and SW 112th. The victim was being taken to Harborview Medical Center. The investigation stretched to 26th and Roxbury because a vehicle there was somehow linked to the suspect. That’s all we know so far but we’ll be following up.

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Crash, stabbing investigation in White Center

March 20th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 16 Comments »

(WCN photo)

Thanks for the tips. The big King County Sheriff’s Office response near 17th/98th is for a complicated crime scene – a car crashed and a man with stab wounds was found inside. He has been rushed to Harborview. Deputies don’t know who attacked him but they believe it happened in the course of a robbery. The victim is reported to be in stable condition.

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Suspect in custody after White Center arsons

March 20th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 3 Comments »

On Tuesday afternoon, two readers reported being on Metro buses when announcements were made that they were rerouting because of “an active arsonist.” KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott tells WCN that “one male is in custody on multiple counts of arson and reckless burning” after “several fires set at bus stops and three businesses in White Center.” No further details on the case but we’ll be checking on the suspect’s status.

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UPDATE: Why 16th SW was closed at SW 107th this morning

March 20th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 3 Comments »

ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY REPORT: A bizarre and tragic incident led to the closure of 16th SW at SW 107th for a while this morning. The scene was clear before we heard about it but here’s how King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott answered our followup inquiry:

Suicide attempt, 10700 block 16 Avenue SW. Male poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire. A Deputy saw it and used his fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire. The male was transported to (Harborview Medical Center) in very critical condition.

We always share this in reports mentioning suicide: If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, the Crisis Connections hotline is available 24/7 at 866-427-4747.

ADDED THURSDAY: The King County Medical Examiner’s Office says the 30-year-old man died, from burns over 92 percent of his body.

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UPDATE: Child seriously hurt by driver in White Center, expected to recover

March 18th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on UPDATE: Child seriously hurt by driver in White Center, expected to recover

8:12 PM: Just in from King County Sheriff’s Office via Twitter: “Car vs child accident at SW 110/ 16 AVE SW in White Center. 12 year old child being transport(ed) to HMC by @KingCoMedicOne with serious injuries. KCSO Detectives responding to the scene. Road will be closed for several hours for investigation.” We’re on our way to the scene.

8:40 PM: NB 16th is actually open but the center and SB lanes are blocked. Detectives say they’ll be here another hour or so.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: Finally got some additional info from KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott. The victim suffered broken bones but is expected to recover fully. He is believed to have “run into traffic” before being hit; Sgt. Abbott adds, “The driver was cooperative and remained on scene. Alcohol and drugs were not involved.”

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2 to hospital after Boulevard Park-area collision

March 14th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Boulevard Park, King County Sheriff's Office, Traffic, White Center news Comments Off on 2 to hospital after Boulevard Park-area collision

That photo is from the King County Sheriff’s Office, which reports via Twitter: “Deputies on scene of a collision involving two vehicles and a semi truck at S. 96 Ave./ 8 Ave. S in Boulevard Park area, Unincorporated King County. 2 patients being transported by medics to HMC in critical condition. The road will be closed during the investigation.”

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MISSING: Have you seen ‘Pepe’?

March 7th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on MISSING: Have you seen ‘Pepe’?

The King County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your help finding a man last seen in White Center:

Michael Pepion, “Pepe,” age 42, was last seen on October 18, 2018 near the 9600 block of 16 Ave. SW in White Center. From there, he allegedly rode with another person to the Tahuya State Forest area, near Belfair, to the quad trails. Michael has not been seen nor heard from since, which is concerning to Detectives.

King County Major Crimes Detectives are asking for anyone that has seen Michael or know his whereabouts to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206/296-3311. The circumstances regarding his disappearance are concerning to Detectives.

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Why the Guardian One helicopter is over White Center

March 2nd, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 1 Comment »

Thanks for the text (206-293-6302 any time). Guardian One confirms via Twitter that it’s the helicopter you’re seeing/hearing over White Center. Flight tracking shows it’s been focused in the southwest White Center/northwest Burien area. G1’s tweet says King County Sheriff’s Deputies are looking for a robbery suspect. We’re monitoring the search via law-enforcement radio but have not yet heard details of the incident. We’ll update if we find out anything more; let us know if/where you’re seeing deputies on the ground. (added) Radio discussion indicates the ground search has been centering on 14th/116th.

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FOLLOWUP: White Center murder suspect arrested and jailed; bail set at $2 million

March 1st, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: White Center murder suspect arrested and jailed; bail set at $2 million

Just announced by the King County Sheriff’s Office:

It’s been almost three months since KCSO announced Roberts, 24, was being sought in connection with the shooting death of 26-year-old Ricardo Villa Senor in November. According to the jail register, Roberts is charged with first-degree murder and his bail is set at $2 million.

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WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: 2 arrested in 1995 murder, 23 years later

February 13th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: 2 arrested in 1995 murder, 23 years later

Announced today by the King County Sheriff’s Office:

On November 27, 1995, the King County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle parked in the 200-block of SW 97 PL in White Center. Upon their arrival, deputies found an African-American male, identified later as Kenneth Ruffer, age 26, shot to death within the vehicle.

The ensuing investigation identified numerous persons who knew Mr. Ruffer. It was ultimately learned that Mr. Ruffer may have been set up for a robbery by a female associate who at the time was 25 years old. A male suspect at the time of the murder was 29 years old, and was named as an accomplice to the robbery-murder.

Collected evidence was examined by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab with a DNA analysis conducted. A full DNA profile was obtained which subsequently matched a reference sample collected from the male suspect.

Although DNA evidence did allow for the identification of a suspect in this case, cooperative witnesses had to be developed. Detectives spent the past year re-examining the case, its evidence, and tracking down and re-contacting witnesses in order to develop that level of cooperation.

On February 13, 2019, the now 52 year-old male and 48-year-old female, were booked into the King County Jail on Murder 1 charges.

(added 2:13 pm)

“Our detectives never give up in their quest for justice for all victims” said Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. “Today, their tireless work has hopefully brought some comfort to Mr. Ruffer’s family.”

“This case, and others like it, highlight the need for funding of a dedicated Cold Case Unit,” said Sheriff Johanknecht. “The King County Sheriff’s Office has over 300 unsolved cold cases. Our major crimes detectives must balance cold case investigations with a high volume of current cases … Every victim matters, and I will continue to seek ways to ensure those who do them harm are accountable for their actions.”

We’re checking with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to see if charges actually have been filed yet, as online files don’t show them – though we’re aware that court/criminal-justice operations are catching up from snow closures.

7:15 PM: Both suspects are charged with first-degree murder, according to documents we obtained from the KCPAO – Christopher Wright and Nichole Asphy. Prosecutors allege Ruffer was shot dead as they attempted to rob him.. We’ll add more details from the charging papers later.

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UPDATE: 2 deputies on leave after gunfire in White Center Subway incident

February 4th, 2019 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

5:26 PM: If you’re wondering what the helicopter and King County Sheriff’s Office activity is near 16th and 104th in White Center, here’s what KCSO is saying: “Deputies contacted suspect armed with a knife [related to domestic violence]. Attempted to tase him with no effect. Shots fired by deputy at suspect, unknown injuries. Suspect inside Subway where he is still armed and barricaded. All employees safe.”

5:38 PM: We’re monitoring this via radio communication. SWAT is involved. Deputies are talking with the suspect.

6:41 PM: Still working to get him to surrender.

6:57 PM: Per radio communication, they are taking the suspect into custody now.

11:11 PM: New information late tonight from KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott:

On 2/4/19 at 4:15 PM Deputies were dispatched to a domestic violence disturbance near the 10400 BLK 16 AVE SW, in White Center. The suspect, a 29 year old male, had vandalized a car and then ran into the Subway restaurant that was nearby. When Deputies arrived on scene the victim directed them to the Subway.

Deputies approached the suspect inside Subway and he produced a knife. Both Deputies deployed their tasers, but it had no effect on the suspect. Instead the suspect charged at one of the Deputies with the knife, then turned toward the occupants of the Subway, at which point the Deputy fired a shot at the suspect, fearing for everyone’s safety. The shot missed the suspect, and he retreated into the Subway kitchen and barricaded himself. The employees and customers were able to exit the store.

KCSO HNT (Hostage Negation Team) spoke with the suspect for over an hour and a half, trying to get him to peacefully surrender. At one point the suspect gave both of his knives up to Deputies, but still refused to come out. Instead he began spraying WD-40 on himself, and throughout the room, threatening to light himself on fire. Just prior to that happening, the TAC30 SWAT team made entry into the kitchen area where the suspect was barricaded.

The suspect was using a bulletin board as a shield and had a screw driver in his other hand that he began swinging at the Deputies. A Taser was deployed, but had limited effect on the suspect. Several rubber bullets were fired at the suspect as well, but they also had limited effect.

A K9 dog was then used to try and take the suspect into custody. The suspect was able to slip by Deputies and used his screwdriver to try and stab at them. A shot was fired by a TAC30 Deputy at the suspect, but it did not hit him. The suspect was then taken into custody.

King County Medic 1 was on-scene immediately and treated the suspect, who was rushed to Harborview Hospital. He was listed in stable condition with a dog bite. The attending physician has confirmed the suspect was not struck by a bullet.

No Deputies were injured in this incident.

The two Deputies who fired their weapons are on paid administrative leave, which is standard in Officer involved shootings.

Sheriff Johanknecht has asked the Seattle Police Department Force Investigation Team to investigate the officer involved shooting.

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UPDATE: Shooting death investigated in White Center

January 16th, 2019 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 3 Comments »

5:56 AM: Early this morning, the King County Sheriff’s Office reports, “Deputies responded to an anonymous call of a male shot (in the 10400 block of 15th Avenue SW), White Center. 51-year-old male located with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was pronounced dead at the scene.” The Major Crimes Unit was investigating. We are following up with KCSO.

7:35 AM: We checked in with KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott. He says the victim was found on the street but they “have no suspect info at all at this time.”

6:01 PM: The King County Medical Examiner’s Office identifies the victim as 53-year-old Martin A. Burton and says he died of a “gunshot wound to the lower extremities.” (Added: KCSO provided this photo of the victim.)

No other new info in the case so far.

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VIDEO: See a King County Sheriff’s Deputy’s daughter-assisted signoff

December 12th, 2018 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 3 Comments »

That phone video captures King County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Shute calling in to dispatch one last time before his recent retirement. We happened to hear the call as it happened – including the dispatcher revealing that she’s the deputy’s daughter. We asked KCSO public-information officer Sgt. Ryan Abbott about it; today, KCSO posted the video, on the same day as a party celebrating Deputy Shute’s retirement. He served for more than 36 years, including the White Center ara.

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FOLLOWUP: King County Sheriff’s Office seeking suspect in White Center murder

December 9th, 2018 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: King County Sheriff’s Office seeking suspect in White Center murder

New information about the shooting death in east White Center three weeks ago – and a suspect that KCSO is seeking. Here’s the announcement we received:

KCSO Major Crimes Unit has identified the suspect in the homicide from 11/19/2018 at the 10000 BLK 1 AVE SW as 24-year-old Mical D. Roberts; he is described as 6’5, 250 pounds, and is considered *Armed and Dangerous*. Detectives have probable cause to arrest Roberts for Murder. If you know the whereabouts of Roberts, call 911, do not attempt to contact him. You can also leave an anonymous tip with Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or through the free P3 tips app. Crimestoppers offers a $1000 reward for the tip that leads to the arrest of Roberts. See attached photos of Roberts.

(Backstory) On 11/19/2018 at 7:39 PM a female called 911 from a bedroom closet stating that a shooting was occurring at the residence located at the 10000 BLK 1 AVE SW. Deputies arrived on-scene a short time later and located the 26-year-old victim in the house with multiple gunshot wounds. The victim died at the scene from his injuries. The suspect fled in an unknown vehicle prior to the Police arriving.

Detectives continue to interview witnesses and follow up on leads. They ask that if anyone has any information regarding this shooting to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206/296-3311 or 911.

We still don’t know the victim’s name.

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