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Seattle man charged with murder after shooting homeless man

(AP)

The homelessness crisis in Seattle has taken an even darker turn after tensions grew so severe that a homeless man was shot and killed in the Licton Springs neighborhood.

John Thomas Davis, 55, has been charged with second degree murder for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Daniel Alberto in Licton Springs. He is being held on $1 million bail. Davis reportedly believed Alberto was a homeless man who had broken a window at his home months ago.

Prosecutors argue that Davis became “fixated” on the man prior to shooting him, The Seattle Times reports. The Times further notes that it is unclear if Alberto was homeless. Records indicate he lived at a Shoreline apartment in 2017. And he was not living at the nearby tiny home village.

But homelessness appears to be a significant factor in the shooting. It has been a controversial topic in Seattle, especially in the Licton Springs area where the tiny home village was set up.

Charging documents for the shooting, as reported by The Times, state:

Davis has harbored significant animosity towards the victim Alberto and the local homeless community for months … Davis was fixated on exacting consequences on the man who broke his window, Alberto, and made statements on several occasions that he might have to take matters into his own hands with regard to fighting crime.

Q13 further reports that “racial animosity” may have also been a factor in the shooting. Davis reportedly told police that Alberto told him to leave the area, which angered him because Davis “perceived Alberto as a foreigner who had no right to tell him … to leave his ‘own’ neighborhood.”

The comment thread on The Seattle Times article about the shooting was removed after so many readers violated the newspaper’s terms of service — basically, no threats or inflicting emotional stress on others.

The shooting

While the shooting happened in Licton Springs, Davis did not live there. He lived in the Ravenna neighborhood, about three miles away. But he came to the area more than once to visit Fremont Fellowship Hall, according to The Times, to talk with staff about the suspect. Q13 reports that Davis had texted friends that he may have to take “extreme action” to protect himself.

Davis was also known to police who had warned him not to threaten or confront people, which he reportedly had already done while armed. Davis previously called 911 to report trespassing on his property. He followed the trespassing suspect and told dispatchers that he had a gun and would seek out criminals, The Time reports.

The broken window incident that Davis ultimately shot a man over happened in July. He continued to call 911 about the window over the following weeks, saying he had photographed the suspect, which turned out to be Alberto.

On Oct. 25, Davis was driving on Aurora near the Fremont Fellowship Hall and spotted Alberto walking on the sidewalk. Davis’ narrative states that he pulled up and called to Alberto through the passenger side window. Then Alberto threatened him and walked over to the driver’s side window with a knife. Davis fired once at Alberto and drove off. He called 911 about a block away. Davis says he feared for his life.

Surveillance video shows a different story. Video shows Davis slowing and following alongside Alberto, talking to him through the driver’s side window. Alberto walks away at first, but turns back as if he was called to the car. Alberto walked to the passenger window and was shot. A small knife was found near his body.

Crime in Licton Springs

Crime spiked in the area around the Licton Springs tiny home village since it opened, KIRO 7 reports. And at least one of its residents had been attacked. Crime rates increased in the neighborhood more than 100 percent in just a year. At the same time, overall crime in the North Precinct dropped by 7 percent over 2018. The recent shooting is the sixth homicide in the area during 2018, a five-year high for North Seattle.

In September, the city opted not to renew the camp’s lease — which ends in March 2019 — because not enough people were moving into permanent housing. According to the city, 77 percent of the camp’s residents are chronically homeless and 69 percent experienced more than 12 months of being homeless over the last three years. The Navigation Team, which refers residents to the village, reports the program was designed to serve people for brief periods, but 39 of the 53 people in the village have stayed longer than a year. In October, the camp’s operator SHARE/WHEEL cut out early.

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