by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:
COVINGTON, Wash. - The pictures seem innocuous -- a group of teenaged boys walking toward a non-descript car. But the story behind them is disturbing.
According to 13-year-old Brian Mottson in Covington, last Friday, one of the boys demanded his smartphone, and when Brian refused, the boy pulled a switchblade.
"He like pulled out," Brian and his friend, 12-year-old Jared Oxsen explained, "and he pressed the button and it flipped. Yeah, it was spring action."
They said the boy's other friends tried to settle him down and then got him to retreat into a car.
But as they were leaving, another young friend of Brian was taking pictures of them with her cellphone.
It turns out she had heard of another, similar incident when another friend had been bullied out of his phone.
That incident had been two days prior and just two blocks away from the Tamerack neighborhood park where Brian was threatened.
And the list of teens being targeted for their phones gets longer.
King County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Cindi West said five teens have been targeted in Covington in May.
In three of the incidents, they were simple grab and run thefts.
But once, near the Covington Library, the suspects pulled a gun on a teenager to get a phone.
While the incidents sound similar, the descriptions of the suspect vary quite a bit. The Sheriff's Office is looking into whether this is just a fad among thieves, or whether there is a ring of people who are stealing and reselling the phones.
In the meantime, Brian's mother DeAnn Mattson is trying to get as many eyes as possible on the pictures from her son's incident.
She's sent the photos to the police, she's posted and reposted them on Facebook, and she's even thinking about sending them to area schools to see if anyone can recognize the boys.
Brian managed to hold onto his phone, which Deann thinks was probably the wrong thing to do, especially staring down a bigger, older boy with a knife.
Brian and his friends still go back to the same park to hang out, but they're more wary and aware now.
Deann said it's disturbing to have the threat of violence invade your own neighborhood.
"This is really moving in on us. This is our small, safe, secure little spot, and it's really moving in on us," said Deann.