KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle employee pulls knife on violent homeless man, cops weren’t dispatched

Apr 29, 2024, 5:55 PM

Screenshot of surveillance footage (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH)...

Screenshot of surveillance footage (Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH)

(Photo obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH)

An unruly homeless man threatened and assaulted employees at a Pike Place Market coffee shop and bakery in Seattle before destroying the countertop display. One of the threatened employees was forced to pull a kitchen knife to defend himself and his coworker.

Ian Halcott has been a small business owner in Seattle for over 25 years. But he’s starting to lose hope after an incident last Wednesday at 7 p.m. when a man entered his store, Baxter & Frost, threatened to shoot employees and destroyed the countertop.

In surveillance footage exclusively shared with “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH, the homeless suspect is seen posturing aggressively toward two employees before they say he threatened them. The footage does not contain audio.

After about 40 seconds, the suspect uses his fingers to make a gun gesture at the two employees. The owner said the man looked to be carrying something in his waistband, but couldn’t confirm. Then the situation escalated.

More from Jason Rantz: Seattle restaurant owner ‘lost all faith’ in city after 23rd break-in

How did the homeless man allegedly threaten employees?

As one of the employees backed away, the suspect threw everything from the countertop to the floor. Both employees armed themselves for protection: One employee grabbed a kitchen knife, another a spatula and baking tray. They both yelled at the man to get out, but he refused.

Instead, the suspect picked up a nearby orange cone and threw it at one of the employees, injuring him. The orange cone was placed at the store entrance to alert customers of a step.

“I have to train my, my people in a special way to work with people who are not our customers and treat them with respect,” Halcott explained to “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH. “But to also say, they’re not our customers and that, unfortunately, they have to go. But you know the level of brazenness… they’re just, there’s no consequences.”

Halcott said his employees called 911 but, due to staffing, officers were not dispatched to the store. The suspect got away.

“(The dispatchers) were like, ‘No, we’re not gonna be able to make make it out tonight and take the statements,’ which is terrifying. My staff literally felt fear for their lives. And rightly so,” Halcott said.

Business owner struggled to get to police after homeless man allegedly threatened staff

This wasn’t the first crime the business has dealt with recently. Earlier in the month, a homeless man defecated in the store. He also got away.

With the suspect still at large, Halcott tried to reach out to the police on his own. He wanted to provide them with surveillance footage so police could be on alert. Plus, he wanted to make sure the crime was recorded since many times it goes unreported, giving activists and politicians misleading data points to claim crime is going down.

But no one picked up the non-emergency number.

It wasn’t until after “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH intervened that someone from the Seattle Police Department connected with Halcott.

Consequences of soft-on-crime approach

Halcott said he’s not upset with the police, knowing the department fell victim to the defund movement. But he worries about the future of downtown.

“Pike Place Market, this was always the protected area. This is the heart of the tourist industry here in Seattle. And it’s frustrating to see the lack of enforcement here. Because for about 20 years, pre-COVID, I almost never had a problem at this scale,” Halcott said.

Now his employees are worried for their safety and he has to cut hours because he struggled to staff evenings, he said.

“If you don’t have a judicial system that actually locks people up … or give them rehab options to help them with their addictions, with their problems, the cops won’t be successful,” Halcott said.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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