JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Alleged Seattle arsonist near CHOP arrested, AK-47 found nearby

Jun 17, 2020, 8:06 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2020, 7:29 am
A stash of weapons were found right outside CHOP, near a business that was vandalized. (Photo: Iconic Global) A stash of weapons were found right outside CHOP, near a business that was vandalized. (Photo: Iconic Global) The newly-renamed CHOP. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) Activists are trying to change the name of CHAZ to CHOP, but there's confusion over what the "O" stands for. (Photo: Julio Rosas) Protester removes a Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone sign as activists now move to call the area Capitol Hill Occupied/Organized Protest. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH) 
              A sign reads "Welcome to CHOP," Sunday, June 14, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Protesters calling for police reform and other demands have taken over several blocks near downtown Seattle after officers withdrew from a police station in the area following violent confrontations. The CHOP name is a change from CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) that was used earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            At 12th and Pine in CHOP, a car blocks a lane the city negotiated to remain open. (Photo: Hanna Scott/KIRO Radio)

A suspect was arrested and charged in the alleged arson and vandalism of a business that borders CHOP. Most startling, the owner of a private security firm helping protect the business said they found deadly weapons stashed in a nearby bush, including an AK-47.

Richard Hanks, 21, is a repeat offender accused of breaking into Car Tender, a business less than two blocks outside CHOP in Seattle.

Hanks allegedly broke in and attempted to set the building on fire, but the owners intervened. They were forced to release him as Seattle police were not allowed to intervene due to its proximity to the CHOP.

Rantz: CHOP Seattle activists already blocking lanes city opened

The CHOP arson attempt

Hanks allegedly broke a window and gained entry to Car Tender in the early morning of Monday, June 15. When the owners of the business were notified of the intruder, they immediately headed in to protect their property. They also called 911.

The police report says Hanks was attempting to set a desk on fire. He was using a cassette tape and possibly liquid hand sanitizer. The owner, John McDermott and his son Mason, stopped Hanks before the fire could spread. They noticed his backpack was full of stolen goods, including business checks and external hard drives.

The police report notes that the McDermotts “kept the suspect for a short time, repeatedly calling 911 explaining the situation” but were told that dispatch would not send any officers in. Cops want to help. They’re simply not allowed to.

“Multiple times, we called them,” Mason McDermott told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “…They made it seem like they were going to come. We’ve been bombarded by news station today [Tuesday June 16], basically saying, ‘Hey, the police department’s saying they showed up last night.’ Absolutely not. They did not.”

Mason says they called between 15 and 18 times. SPD Police Chief Carmen Best this week claimed there’s no area that police will not enter. She noted that officers observed the situation from afar, confirming that there is, in fact, an area that police will not enter.

Meanwhile, CHOP protesters gathered outside and it turned messy.

CHOP protesters demand business turn over the suspect

A crowd of between 100 and 200 CHOP protesters, several armed, formed outside Car Tender demanding Hanks be released.

“Several of them yell that they will burn or destroy the business,” if Hanks wasn’t released, according to the police report.

This is, no doubt, the act of a totally peaceful group of CHOP activists.

“They were shouting at us from outside the gate of my dad’s shop, saying that they were going to kill us and to let him go and, you know, obscenities,” Mason tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “…basically, they said, ‘let him go or we’re gonna kill you guys. You need to let him go.’ And we were just holding him so the police could get there, you know, so this guy could be accountable for trying to burn our family business to the ground and stealing.”

The CHOP protesters “physically knocked down the chainlink fence that surrounds the business and rushed the yard,” the police report says. “To appease the protesters, the suspect was released to them.”

CHOP security?

It appears that some of the CHOP protesters may have been attempting their own investigation into the break-in. This is, of course, dangerous. The “security” members for CHOP are not trained.

The crowd “forcibly detained the suspect, forcibly [searching] both his backpack and his person and did not allow him to leave,” according to the police report.

The crowd returned property belonging to the owner that was found on Hanks. But then their self-policing turned violent.

The police report states “eventually a member of the crowd assaulted the suspect, repeatedly punching him in the face.” When a brawl broke out, the suspect escaped.

Hanks was arrested by the King County Sheriff’s Office during a suspected car burglary in White Center on the same day he allegedly broke into Car Tender. A KCSO deputy on-scene recognized Hanks from social media video showing the Car Tender crime.

Trove of weapons found

Auburn-based security firm Iconic Global volunteered their time and staff to help guard Car Tender after they learned about the incident. And while on scene, they made a startling discovery.

Hidden in nearby bushes, they say they found an AK-47, with five fully loaded magazines. But that’s not all. They found a Glock magazine, fireworks, and “explosive hardware,” the owner tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

The owner tells me they got a tip that Hanks was working with protesters at CHOP and that weapons had been stashed nearby. Afters hours of convincing dispatch to send SPD to collect the weapons, Iconic Global turned them over.

It has not been confirmed if the weapons belong to Hanks, nor is this mentioned in the police report or charging documents. The King County Prosecutor’s Office does not have evidence that Hanks was involved in CHOP protests.

As of Thursday, June 17, Hanks faces three charges for his alleged crimes: burglary in the second degree, theft of a motor vehicle, and malicious mischief in the first degree. He remains in custody. Two days prior to the alleged Car Tender incident, a judge released Hanks from jail for an unrelated criminal allegation.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Alleged Seattle arsonist near CHOP arrested, AK-47 found nearby