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Seattle store owner tackles gun-wielding guitar thief

Jay Boone, owner of Emerald City Guitars for 23 years, has enjoyed working in Pioneer Square for years.

He told the Dori Monson Show the neighborhood has always been colorful but with sporadic crime, begging, and the occasional shooting. Nothing like it is today.

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“One thing I didn’t see back in those days was people camping, piles of garbage, real aggressive panhandling and confrontations,” he said.

Boone said a man stole a $3,400 guitar from the store last week and returned to the shop a few days ago. His staff checked the surveillance footage last week and spotted a man carrying in a guitar bag. No one was in the room at the time, so he took a guitar off the wall, shoved it in the bag, and walked out the front door. Most recently, the same man returned to the store with a guitar bag. A staff member asked to hold it behind the counter. The man sat down to play a guitar and a staff member called over to Boone.

“This is the same case, he’s wearing the same coat, we pull up the video, and it’s exactly the same guy.”

Boone told Dori he confronted the man, and demanded he sit down and wait until police arrived. His staff called 911. They were prepared to wait as long as it took for officers to arrive.

“All of a sudden he jumps up and pulls a gun out of the pocket of his coat, points it at us, and immediately we’re all recoiling, ‘He’s got a gun.’ We’re telling him, ‘Don’t do this, guy. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it to shoot somebody.’”

Boone chased after him, tackled him out in the street and struggled with him in the alley behind the J&M Cafe. Boone said the man bit his left hand and shot the gun six inches from his face after he pulled it back. Boone jumped away and ran around the corner. He said the man darted down the alley.

By that time, police and the fire department had shown up to the scene.

“They managed to catch the guy,” Boone said.

His staff was talking with a customer taking cover in the store. He had witnessed the staff’s apprehension of the man and then noticed him later underneath the viaduct. The customer returned to the store to help officers make a positive ID.

Boone said he doesn’t know much about the man who tried to shoot him.

“He wasn’t like a dirty, filthy street guy. He reeked of marijuana. He was a guy that I didn’t think would have a gun on him. He looked like some stoner kid that was stealing guitars.”

Dori has since learned that the man has been arrested four times for assaulting strangers and holding up a convenience store. This type of situation is not uncommon for Boone. He said he calls 911 quite a bit. He installed a security gate about a year ago and has restraining orders against a couple of people.

“I took a guy down last year who was trying to assault the owner downstairs at the pet shop,” Boone said.

He said it’s frustrating because even if the cops can track these people down, they’re back on the street a couple of days after they’re arrested. He’s worried that he’ll run into the guy who tried to shoot him again.

Boone believes fear among business owners is at a tipping point in Seattle.

“We’re down there every day and we’re not going to put up with it,” he said. “People are at that point.”

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