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Lawmaker calls for shutdown of King County Courthouse after assault

The King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. (Evan Didier, Flickr Creative Commons)

In the wake of an assault on a female employee inside the King County Courthouse on Thursday, County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is calling on local leaders to limit access to all buildings in the downtown Seattle court complex.

Councilmember pushing to condemn park near King County Courthouse

Thursday’s assault reportedly occurred when the victim went into a bathroom where a man was already inside. The man was then said to have attacked her, before she screamed for help. Another court employee helped subdue the suspect, who was later arrested by Seattle police and booked into jail.

This marks the latest in a series of incidents in and around the King County Courthouse dating back years. In late 2019, that Third Avenue entrance was temporarily closed after an assault on an attorney and a King County Metro bus driver. The entrance reopened in early 2020 after the county council put $600,000 toward two additional deputies for on-street security, more security screeners, a marshal on the Fourth Avenue entrance, and outreach workers outside the courthouse to connect people with services.

In late June, Dunn had proposed to have the county condemn a neighboring park as a safety hazard, claiming that a growing homeless encampment in the area has fueled an escalation in the courthouse’s frequent violent incidents.

Now, he’s pushing for the closure of the courthouse, the King County Administration Building, and Seattle’s Chinook Building to everyone but employees and “people with necessary business,” as well as ensuring that “the situation at City Hall Park can be adequately addressed.” Dunn also notes that limiting access to the courthouse would not actually be out of the ordinary for a major city.

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“It’s not unprecedented, lots of courthouses across the country do just that,” he told KIRO Radio.

That’s all part of a larger situation he says “cannot endure.”

“We need to get folks out of City Hall Park and secure that location,” Dunn said.

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