Ballard bias crime suspect has history of targeting Asians; mental health history

SEATTLE — A man suspected in a string of bias crimes against the Asian community is in police custody. On Wednesday, a judge heard the case for the first time.

KIRO7 looked into 28-year-old David Altomare’s criminal history and found he’s exhibited past violent behavior targeting Asians.

“I am finding probable cause for a felony hate crime,” said Judge Anne Harper, a King County District Court judge.

Prosecutors say on Monday in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, he targeted an Asian couple.

“The defendant threatened to kill the leader of China,” said Nathan Frei, King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. “He then yelled racial slurs at the victims in this case before chasing after them. But for the intervention of a bystander there, who knows what would’ve happened."

Lauri Miller, who lives in the area, saw what happened from her balcony.

“He (Altomare) ran like superhuman fast,” Miller said. She says she warned the couple because the suspect was approaching them from behind.

“I yelled ‘Look out!’ really loud, and they turned around and saw him and started running,” Miller said.

Investigators say witnesses also reported that they recognized Altomare as the suspect behind several other bias crimes - incidents at a Thai Thani restaurant and Golden Gardens.

Court documents from 2017 show that Altomare had past run-ins with law enforcement.

Documents say he broke into a gym room at the Villaggio Apartments in Kirkland to “presumably locate and attack ‘North Koreans’” and that Altomare started “throwing the weights through residential windows and at vehicles, and breaking through a glass door and entering a residence.”

That same day, police said he also broke into a Google building on the Kirkland campus, smashing windows, doors, walls, and electronics. Witnesses reported he was “yelling about killing people and about North Koreans.”

In another incident at the University of Washington, “the defendant allegedly armed himself with a baseball bat while searching for North Koreans.”

Prosecutors said at the time, “The State believes that the defendant’s behavior is escalating and that a violent encounter is likely… the defendant appears to be seeking a violent confrontation with North Koreans or Asian-American King County residents.”

The Superior Court case was dismissed in 2018 after Altomare pleaded guilty to the same crimes in Mental Health Court, which is part of King County District Court. He was placed on 24-months mental health supervision.

That supervision ended in February of 2020, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors in court on Wednesday did not address the 2017 incidents.

Judge Harper set Altomare’s bail at $50,000, following the state’s recommendation.

“I am finding Mr. Altomare is a danger to the community because of the pattern of incidents,” Harper said, referring to the multiple incidents in Ballard.

Seattle police are still investigating the case and may recommend additional charges to the prosecutor’s office.