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Business owner near CHOP says calls to 911 went unanswered

Barriers are seen on a street leading to the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct on June 9, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

While the CHOP has often been portrayed as a street fair-like, festival atmosphere by city officials and various media channels, some residents and local businesses have a different story to tell.

On Sunday, Car Tender, a business situated right outside the CHOP area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood had its chain link fence ripped down and the owner reports being threatened.

“It really is a really tough time,” Car Tender owner John McDermott told The Dori Monson Show. “I think it’s a tough time for all the neighbors, but having to put up with this, I feel just completely left out, unprotected, and misrepresented by the Seattle City Council.”

Capitol Hill resident says living within CHOP is an ‘eye opening experience’

Last week, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said police response time in the Capitol Hill area had more than tripled from five minutes to 18 minutes after police left the East Precinct.

McDermott says he called 911 many times Sunday night, with no response.

The events started when a neighbor called a fellow business owner to tell him that someone was on Car Tender’s property, milling around the cars in the parking lot, McDermott explained. The person reportedly had a hammer, and was potentially going to cause harm or damage. The business owner contacted McDermott’s business partner who is out of town, so he called McDermott.

McDermott says he left his house with his son as quickly as possible, and called 911 on the way to Capitol Hill to let police know they were coming, what vehicle they were driving, let them know they were armed, and provided a personal description so officers could know what to expect if anyone was there when they arrived.

“We had these guys literally threatening us with guns that they told us that if we crossed the fence line that they would kill us,” McDermott said. “I’m standing there, people are trying to talk to me, they’re trying to get interviews, I’ve got laser pointers on me from firearms. … I’m trying to protect myself, my business. And we’re just completely left out there, unprotected.”

McDermott says it could have been really ugly. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

“The bottom line is we pay taxes to be protected,” he said. “We pay taxes to have order maintained in the city. And the city leaders are just leaving us out there.”

McDermott estimates he called 911 10 times, and his business partner called at least three times from out of town. He also reported that there were multiple neighbors who called 911 as well, but said there was no police response on scene.

No one is quite sure what the next steps will be for CHOP, but McDermott hopes there’s a plan soon before it gets worse.

“My hope and my prayer is that the City Council is going to come up with a plan,” McDermott said. “I’m not a politician. I don’t set public policy. I support my city leaders as best I can, I try to run a sound business, … I pay my taxes, I’m a good neighbor to the neighborhood, I support the police and the fire department, … and here I am left out there, with nothing.”

“The CHAZ, or the CHOP, or whatever they’re calling it today, they sort of pseudo have their own police force or security force,” he added. “But there’s a lot of loose cannons in there, some armed, some not, and … at one point, like I said, the guy said, ‘if you guys come across the fence line, we’re gonna kill you.'”

McDermott said he will be trying to protect his place of business in the coming nights from any potential threats. He does recognize there are good people in the area, but it seems the message has been lost.

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“There are good people in there. I understand what they’re trying to do, we’re trying to change the narrative, we’re trying to fix the wrongs, but it’s not working the way they’re trying to do it,” he said. “Having … somebody break into my business, try to start a fire, steal and loot the business, if you will, that’s not going to promote change.”

“And for me to have to be down here and be armed, and protect my business, and potentially have to cause bloodshed to save my own, that’s not police protection either,” McDermott added.

When asked for comment, the SPD communications team told KIRO Radio: “Seattle Police did respond to the incident last night and documented the incident on a report. The case number is #2020-188030.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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