Seattle business owner Russ Meyer has dealt with the crowd of RVs and tents surrounding his shop in SoDo for months. But one recent incident left a bullet hole in his building.
“We actually had no idea about the incident,” Meyer told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It just happened that my cousin was walking out the backside of our building going to lunch and there was a couple detectives looking at the building. He asked the detectives if there was anything he could help them out with. They said, ‘Yeah’ and pointed up to the cameras and said, ‘Do these work?’”
The security cameras do work. Meyer went through the video footage and came across a shocking scene.
“It shows an altercation with a man and a woman,” Meyer said. “The woman draws a gun on the male. The male attacks her, choking her, taking the gun away. Throwing her to the ground and choking her out again. Some words went back and forth. He walks away and discharges the gun into the building and discharges a round out into the open air.”
“We’re just lucky it happened on a Sunday evening and it went into an unoccupied building,” he said.
KIRO 7 reports that the fight was between a man and a women who live in a nearby RV, and that the suspect is a felon. Meyer says that the suspected shooter is still in that RV near his business.
RVs in SoDo
The streets around Meyer’s business — Ben’s Cleaner Sales — are lined with RVs and tents associated with the homeless crisis.
“I walk out the door, at any given point there’s about 12 to 20 RVs in a two or four block radius,” Meyer said. “There’s piles of garbage. There’s tents, human defecation. It’s endless. You see stolen bikes, groups of people hanging out, and fires. It’s endless.”
It’s a stark contrast to the neighborhood Meyer grew up in. His grandfather started the business in SoDo in 1945.
“I used to come down when I was a little kid and work with my dad … he’d give me $10 to walk down to the local burger place to grab some lunch and walk back,” Meyer said. “There is no way I would let my 9-year-old boys do that same thing today.”
“The other day I was walking out with a customer to show him his new equipment and I had one of the local residents who lives in the back street go crazy on us,” he said. “And that is just something I have to deal with; not only the safety of our employees, but dealing with our presentation with customers.”
Meyer has discussed the matter with police, but he says he hears a message that other residents have also reported hearing. The words commonly repeated around Seattle is that officers’ “hands are tied.”
“The police say their hands are tied,” Meyer said. “The police jump leaps and bounds for us … the police go to any end to help us out. But they tell us their hands are tied. They are told from the top down that they are to leave these people alone unless they are visually committing a crime at that point in time. That upsets me.”
“They say — city officials — they want to help people, the families in RVs, get into housing, affordable housing,” he said. “I would love for that to happen. I think any family with children or down on their luck should have all the help in the world. But the people behind our building are not families. They are not people that want help. They are drug-using, criminal … a majority of them are people living above the law because they know they can.”