Rantz: After report, warrant filed for Seattle prolific offender that was just released
After my report detailing a bigoted Seattle prolific offender threatening two men and a woman, followed by a quick release from jail, there’s been a change of heart. Francisco Calderon now faces likely felony charges and a warrant for his arrest. This all could have been avoided if we weren’t soft on crime in Seattle.
Francisco Calderon is accused of a bias-incident targeting two gay men he threatened with a syringe. After harassing the men, telling them that they should not be married (they weren’t), Calderon also harassed a black woman, calling her the n-word.
Calderon was arrested last Thursday night around 11 p.m., only to be quickly released Friday afternoon.
Now, after a day’s worth of bad press and a victim pursuing harsher punishment, the city has changed its tune.
Seattle prolific offender back on the radar
News of the incident ignited a fiery response from Seattle residents sick of the Seattle prolific offender problem. With over 75 convictions, Calderon has become the poster child for Seattle’s light-on-crime approach. It’s been an utter failure with Calderon.
Still, he has a friend in Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. But one of the victims, who reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, expressed dismay that Calderon was released from jail so soon after his arrest.
As I noted, King County won’t book most misdemeanor charges over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The suspect will be arrested, but will see little jail time awaiting a court date, so COVID-19 doesn’t spread in the jail system.
This policy may make sense for the man accused of shoplifting food, out of a job thanks to the coronavirus. But for a mentally-ill man who sucker-punches passersby and throws coffee in the face of a toddler? No. He should be in jail.
Finally, even Holmes couldn’t withstand the pressure.
On Monday afternoon, the victim had told me he sent harrowing pictures to the Seattle City Attorney’s office showing Calderon holding the syringe in a balled-up fist. It’s a frightening photo. And it got the city to act.
The victim was told at 2:42 p.m. that the prosecutor requested a $125,000 arrest warrant for Calderon and the Seattle Police Department would be notified. Hours later, officers contacted me to say they just received a bulletin to arrest Calderon. Finally, Holmes’ office sent me a statement.
The officer booked the defendant into jail on felony charges but then decided to refer the case at the misdemeanor-level when doing the paperwork. The defendant was already released from jail before the case was ever referred to our office. When our prosecutor reviewed the facts of the alleged incident today, she found it was likely sufficient to merit felony-level charges. To bring him back into custody, she filed misdemeanor charges today and asked a judge for an arrest warrant, which was granted. Based on the facts alleged incident, we asked that SPD refer the case to the King County Prosecutor’s Office to consider filing it as a felony. If the King County Prosecutor’s Office chooses to file, we’d then dismiss ours and let them handle the case from there. If they don’t, then we’d continue with the case.
This didn’t have to happen this way.
Soft-on-crime culture at work
The reason we have a Seattle prolific offender problem is the City Attorney and King County Prosecutor have adopted a soft-on-crime mentality where they don’t think incarceration will change people like Calderon. When it comes to this particular villain, they’re right. He needs treatment for substance abuse and mental health.
But he refuses to get it and judges can’t force him. It’s exactly why Calderon should be in jail.
The only time the public is safe from Calderon is when he’s in jail between convictions. I don’t think everyone deserves harsh punishment, particularly when they’re better served by treatment. But if they refuse, I no longer care about the suspect. I care about the victims. And Calderon has many victims. He will have many more when he’s not in jail.
It seems likely the coronavirus policy sped up Calderon’s release. The Department of Corrections has not returned two requests for comment. The policy position, as outlined by the city, was supposed to allow for some misdemeanor cases be considered for booking even if they didn’t meet the policy standards. Who could be more deserving of jail time than a guy with 75 convictions?
But this goes beyond this one policy.
City Attorney Pete Holmes actively fought against’ a judge in a despicable PR campaign because the judge threw Calderon in jail. Calderon shouldn’t have been in a position to be released due to the coronavirus booking policy. Holmes fought to keep Calderon out of jail; his office doesn’t get a pat on the back for doing the right thing here.
Calderon should have already been in jail for his last crime. And as foolish as this blanket coronavirus policy may be, it’s only secondary to the bigger problem responsible for so many prolific offenders re-victimizing Seattleites.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office sent the following statement:
Francisco Calderon has been charged with three counts of Hate Crime (Malicious Harassment). He has an arraignment scheduled for May 13 at 8:30am, E1201. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Bond is set at $20,000.