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U-District business owner witnesses regular violence outside shop

Seattle's Hardwick's Hardware store is leaving after 86 years in business. The neighborhood is evolving and taxes are too high, owners say. (Courtesy of Hardwick's Hardware)

A longtime U-District shop owner who is about to close his doors is tired of witnessing violence on a regular basis.

Dean Hardwick, owner of 86-year-old Hardwick & Sons Hardware on Roosevelt Way, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that he often sees “random acts of violence” by homeless people throughout the U-District.

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The most recent of these attacks occurred on Wednesday, when an allegedly homeless man assaulted a group of people with a bicycle.

“There was a lot of yelling, down at the corner of 42nd and Roosevelt, which is about 130 feet from our front door,” Hardwick said.

Outside, an erratically-behaving man was shaking a bicycle and yelling profanities at passersby. When one person ran away, the perpetrator followed the man, but soon returned to continue yelling at onlookers.

“All of a sudden he just threw a sucker punch at three people and hit them,” Hardwick said. The perpetrator then quickly left the scene on the bike.

Hardwick observed that one of the victims, who was aided by firefighters and police, was holding his chin, and appeared to be bleeding.

Another terrifying incident occurred Memorial Day Weekend when Hardwick was driving with his 24-year-old daughter Erin in his car. An erratic man that Hardwick described as looking “like Rasputin” pointed at Hardwick’s daughter and punched the car with his fist.

“If Erin was outside the car, I would fear for her life, really,” Hardwick said. “I was glad to get out of there.”

In another recent incident, Hardwick saw a panhandler make a gun gesture with his hand toward a couple in a car at 45th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Hardwicks is leaving

Hardwick feels that the city has let crime and homelessness get so out of control, and is disappointed in politicians for turning the city into a nightmare — a nightmare that he and his business soon plan to leave. After the assault with the bicycle, he wrote a letter to the Seattle City Council asking for change.

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“I used to have a sense of pride in Seattle … no more. They, the politicians killed it, killed it, killed it,” Hardwick wrote. “It brings me to tears.”

He told Dori that he meant that statement literally, and does indeed shed tears over what his beloved city has become.

Hardwick compared Seattle’s problems to “a nuclear bomb” about to detonate, and said that the city’s leaders must take quick action if they want to save the city from ruin.

“It’s just going to exacerbate to the point that … in the end they’re going to have to be mean and strong,” he said of the council.

Until then, Hardwick will move his household and business to a place in which he can feel safe.

“This is getting out of hand,” Hardwick said. “When you try to think that you’re offering something to these people and they’re not in their right mind, pretty soon, something terrible is going to happen.”

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