Masked suspects are apparently cruising the streets of Seattle, targeting high school students for their phones and other personal things, according to police.
“They all grabbed me and threw me on the ground, then began beating me up and hitting me in the back of the head.” “I was in the foetal position, kind of covering my face,” a Ballard High School sophomore said as he walked home from school earlier this month.
Investigators have linked four reported events involving children near Ballard High School and Whitman Middle School, according to a news release issued by Seattle Police on Monday. The schools are approximately 1.5 miles apart.
“The suspects in these incidents were described as a group of 4-6 subjects. Most of the cases involve 3-6 Black males wearing ski masks or hoodies, but it was also reported an Asian male and Black female may have been involved in one of the incidents,” police said Monday.
There could be more events connected to the wave of robberies, according to parents and children interviewed by KIRO 7.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. It’s happening in broad daylight,” a high school senior whose friend was mugged on Oct. 19 told KING 5. “He looked down at his phone and by the time he looked up, he was surrounded by five guys and eventually these guys told him, ‘Sit on the ground.’ They made him reset their phone, tell them their password and they took their AirPods, phones.”
According to police, some of the victims saw a handgun when they were asked to hand up their phones or other possessions. According to authorities, the suspects appear to be teens, however, this has yet to be confirmed.
In a recent letter to parents, Ballard High School Principal Abby Hunt stated that she is “working closely with regional school leaders and the district’s safety and security team on best practices in keeping our campuses safe,” according to KING 5.
According to one mother who talked to KIRO 7 on the condition of anonymity, her child was attacked last Thursday by gun-wielding criminals.
“Our kids shouldn’t normalize being robbed at gunpoint walking home from school,” the parent said.
According to the mother, no one responded to the child’s call to the police. The family has subsequently filed a police report and is awaiting a call from a detective.
“When you call 911 when you’re a victim and nobody shows up that’s extremely concerning, especially as a parent,” she told KIRO 7.
Seattle Public Schools severed relations with the Seattle Police Department in 2020, following nationwide protests and riots demanding that police agencies be defunded in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death during an encounter with Minneapolis police.
Following a series of violent crimes in the last two years, including a fatal shooting at a high school, the district’s school board approved the SPS Safety Initiative, which calls for a review of campus safety and the formation of “community action teams,” which involve district leaders and police.
According to local media, the Seattle Police Department has lost at least 600 officers due to retirements or resignations since 2020’s anti-police comments. Despite efforts to recruit and retain officers, the mayor’s office stated this month that the agency has slipped to its lowest level of manpower since 1991, with only 937 police officers.
According to the news release, police will increase patrols near the schools “when staffing allows.”
“These crimes against our youth in our communities are a high priority for the department. We do ask that you keep your safety a number one priority and be vigilant in identifying a potentially dangerous situation,” the department added.