Rantz: Teens with ‘shanks and machetes’ threatened cops during riot, state vows charges
Documents and photos obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH reveal last month’s riot at a juvenile detention center was even worse than previously reported.
At least five juveniles at Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie rioted after losing free time. They destroyed property, created makeshift shanks, and threatened to stab law enforcement. Staff identified one of the rioters as a juvenile who previously escaped the facility in April, according to an incident report.
The Department of Children, Youth, and Family (DCYF), which manages the facilities, originally downplayed the riot, calling it “an incident” that only lasted a short time. But the new documents, along with 911 calls exclusively obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, paint a much more dangerous and chaotic night.
Why the riot started
A total of 32 officers from various agencies were needed to quell the riot at Echo Glen on August 20, just after 9 pm.
“I’m reporting a riot at Echo Glenn Children’s Center. We need law enforcement back up immediately,” an Echo Glen staff member told 911 operators at 9:12 pm. “… I am requesting security. They asked us to call 911.”
Eight minutes later, staff again asked for law enforcement assistance.
“Are they still actively rioting?” the operator asked.
“Yes … we have youths that are in our exterior courtyard … and they are currently rioting and trying to, attempting to escape the back courtyard. And they are breaking exterior glass and trying to throw the glass at the staff. And then, we have five that are in the unit that are down who are also banging out,” the staff member explained.
She said the juveniles in the courtyard were “attempting to climb the fence and get out.”
A responding officer, in an incident report for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said one of the juveniles admitted that the rioters “were angry over perceived injustices regarding free time in the unit and that they were supposed to have free time until 9:45 but that it had been taken away for no reason.”
‘Stab any cop’ that comes into the building
The riot started in the Chinook Building, which houses 10 juveniles.
Photos from the scene reveal severely damaged property, furniture used to barricade a window, ransacked office space, damaged electrical systems, and what appears to be a raided nurses station. Windows leading to the courtyard were shattered.
Police say juveniles crawled through the glass to get to the fenced-in courtyard. Some photos appear to show blood from the juveniles who cut themselves while escaping the building.
One officer said he observed the juveniles attempting to make “impromptu weapons,” steal staff’s portable radio, and destroy property.
“Staff also advised me that they have spoken with [redacted juvenile’s name] over the landline, and said that he told them that they were going to stab any cop that tried to come into the building,” a deputy wrote in an incident report.
According to a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) readout, deputies said they saw juveniles with weapons at 10:11 pm.
“Did anyone see shank or machete?” one deputy asked over the radio.
“They have shanks,” one deputy responded. “They are separating metal pieces from chairs and what not [sic].”
Then, the lights went out.
One deputy wrote that the juveniles accessed the electrical panel to control the lights and trigger a fire alarm. Another deputy said the juveniles used the darkness to their advantage as they attempted to scale the courtyard fencing. Another deputy noted they were making “shanks and machetes” and some had pipes.
At 10:36 pm, a deputy wrote in an incident report that the juveniles successfully disabled all the security cameras from the building they were housed.
Negotiation and surrender
The riot lasted nearly five hours, ending just after 1 am on August 21. Deputies were able to get the juveniles to surrender without incident.
“Where they [the juveniles] had initially been confrontational and throwing dozens of ‘Tide pods’ at officers, they now seemed more relaxed and open to talking,” a deputy wrote in an incident report. “We discussed some options with them and convinced one youth to come out in return for the chance to make a phone call.”
The juvenile agreed.
After turning himself in, he was handcuffed and then allowed to make a phone call to a girl he identified as his girlfriend.
Another juvenile turned himself in under the same terms, but when he called his mother, she did not answer.
“The next three suspects agreed to surrender in return for a cigarette,” the deputy noted.
Approximately two dozen officers responded to the riot. The Washington State Patrol, one of the responding agencies, brought in a K-9 unit, according to an incident report. The Sheriff’s Office utilized its crisis negotiation team. The Sammamish Police Department also assisted.
DCYF acknowledged in a press statement that “residents engaged in threats,” but did not detail them. And while the statement acknowledged property damage, the department won’t publicly label this as a riot.
“The situation required the support of local law enforcement and state patrol, and was contained that evening,” DCYF spokesperson Jason Wettstein wrote.
Crisis at Echo Glen
Due to the ages of the juveniles, law enforcement will not publicly identify the juveniles who rioted. But charges are expected.
“We are working in collaboration with King County Sherriff to recommend charges for the five youth,” Wettstein confirmed to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
Echo Glen has come under intense scrutiny this year after two high-profile escapes. It could explain why the department downplayed the riot.
In January, five dangerous juveniles, including one serving a sentence for murder, broke out of Echo Glen. It led to a weeks-long chase, but all five were caught or turned themselves in. Another incident in April led to an hours-long hunt, using aircraft and K-9 units to track the boy down.
There have been at least 24 incidents requiring law enforcement intervention at Echo Glen in 2022, according to a KCSO memo obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
“In the five years preceding this incident, KCSO has responded 190 times to Echo Glen. Many of these calls seem to be as a result of staff members restraining inmates or inmates assaulting staff,” the memo reads.
When John Urquhart was King County Sheriff (2012-2018), he didn’t have much contact with the facility. But he’s alarmed at what’s happened this year.
“It might be a time for the state to take a real close look at what’s going on in there. Certainly, the riot and … escape is very concerning,” Urquhart told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
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