RAINIER VALLEY – According to Seattle Police Department (SPD), the recent robbery and beating death of Othello-area neighbor and business owner Danny Vega was the tenth in a string of increasingly violent street robberies in the Rainier Valley in the last eight weeks.
South Precinct Police Captain Michael Nolan said the victims range in age from high-school students to middle-aged professionals, most of which were simply walking home from work or school after getting off a Metro bus or light rail train.
He said the spike represents an increase not just in South Seattle, but across the city, and that the suspects may be using public transportation to get around and target victims with cell phones, laptops or other expensive electronic equipment.
“Street robberies are a concern for the department, in every part of the city, particularly along transit routes and arterials,” confirmed SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb.
Captain Nolan added that, while they haven’t ruled out the possibility that any of the victims – including Vega – were targeted because they were gay, there is no evidence that the robberies or attacks should be classified as hate crimes.
Nonetheless, the NW Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse, in partnership with the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, Chaya and the Capacity Project, are hosting a community gathering and potluck on Sun., Dec. 4, from 2 to 4 pm at Church of Hope (3818 S. Angeline St.) in Columbia City.
“The gathering will be an opportunity to acknowledge the profound loss and the on-going toll of this violence in all our communities,” said NW Network Executive Director and Rainier Valley neighbor Connie Burk in an email to the community. “Folks will have the chance to share skills and strategies for safety, to take action in support of racial and economic justice for Seattle’s south-end, to express solidarity for youth empowerment projects, and to give and receive support.”
She added that, “in the wake of Danny’s death and these multiple attacks, people feel more fearful about walking in their neighborhood.”
“Enough is enough,” said Captain Nolan. “We’re working hard to catch these guys. It’s a high priority for us and we’re making some gains.”