Two incidents over the weekend, one unfolding late last night and the other Friday night, provide stark contrast and some evidence that the outcome of a crime may be different when an armed citizen intervenes.
Sunday night’s incident pales to the stabbing death Friday of Shoreline Community College Professor Troy Wolff, 46, and the serious injury of his companion, identified as Kristin Ito. Last night, an as-yet unidentified armed citizen grabbed a shotgun and shot a 22-year-old half-naked suspect in a rampage at the Queen City Yacht Club on Portage Bay during which the bad guy allegedly used a stolen boat to ram several other boats and the docks on which people were standing.
According to Seattle Police, the armed citizen apparently feared injury to other boat owners when he shot the suspect in the hand and head. The suspect was naked from the waist down and, according to police and the Seattle Times, he may have been high on drugs.
In the Wolff slaying, the suspect is being described as having a “diminished mental capacity,” but there is no explanation of what that means. He was identified today as Donnell Jackson, 44, and he was scheduled to make a court appearance today. The Seattle Times reported Monday morning that the suspect may have come here recently from California. Authorities are looking into whether the suspect has a criminal history there.
Wolff and Ito were reportedly attacked at random and without provocation while walking through Pioneer Square Friday evening. Ito was reportedly the first one attacked, and Wolff quickly moved to protect her and was fatally stabbed. He is being remembered as a great colleague, and there is every indication that at the end, he was a hero.
The difference in these two events, and one that officials most likely will not focus on, is that an armed citizen was there to intervene at the yacht club, but not in Pioneer Square. Even the Seattle Times merely alluded to the armed citizen as “a witness,” when he could accurately be described as the “first responder.”
Regarding the fatal stabbing, it would be speculation to suggest that an armed citizen’s intervention might have prevented the Pioneer Square incident. It appears to have happened so fast that there may not have been time for an armed response. On the other hand, it would be equally speculative to suggest that neither victim might have been able to react with force, had one of them been armed. More than 200 Seattle Times reader responses were logged in reaction to the original story and the update is beginning to elicit reactions as well.
But crime in Pioneer Square has been in the headlines recently, and there has been considerable discussion about increasing problems with people who may have mental health issues. Seattle appears to have become a magnet for such people, straining available services.
The Seattle area has had other stabbings, as this column discussed, which demonstrates that dangerous people can arm themselves with something other than a firearm and commit lethal mayhem. This might be something for advocates of the so-called “gun free zones” recently promoted by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington Ceasefire to consider.Seattle does have a knife ordinance, but it does not appear to be working.
There is no indication as to motive in the Pioneer Square attack, or even last night’s yacht club incident. There is an uneasy feeling that things could get worse so long as authorities focus more attention on gun control than on mental health and drug abuse, and the easy availability of illegal drugs.