Downtown Seattle tourist says he was attacked by homeless man

SEATTLE — A tourist who parked to visit the Space Needle was attacked by a man who emerged from a tent in an encampment on Third Avenue, according to a report filed by Seattle police.

Police say the man approached a family June 2, called the victim by the wrong name and punched him in the head.

"The suspect had at one point attempted to wrap a rope around the victim's neck," said Seattle police Detective Patrick Michaud.

"The victim was able to get away before any significant injury happened. There was no choking or anything like that; he got a rope around his neck and he got a rope burn as he was trying to take it off."

Police got there quickly enough to witness part of the attack and arrested 47-year-old Michael L. Person, who's now charged in Seattle Municipal Court with assault.

A man identifying himself as "Catfish," who lives in one of the tents in the area, says he did not witness the incident.

"It doesn't sound like it was favorable for anybody including the city, 'cause it likes its tourists," he said.

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And those tourists are noticing Seattle's homeless problem.

On Thursday, KIRO 7 reported on a scathing letter from a pharmacist association to Seattle leaders talking about people feeling unsafe at downtown conventions.

"We can't have an unsafe environment for those people who are visiting," said Ivar's President Bob Donegan.

He said there's been major improvement on the waterfront in the last month, after the city finally removed more than 56 tents that had been under the viaduct for months.

"It took many calls with city council members, the mayor, with Seattle Police, working with all of them to identify the priority," Donegan said.

Donegan said once the city's navigation team became active on the waterfront, they've been very responsive.

Just this week, he called police when a family set up a tent and started to panhandle.

"Eleven minutes later, the police responded, talked to the family and got them services and got them out of there," Donegan said.

In the police report for the tourist assault, an officer wrote that the area around the encampment on Third Avenue has high drug use and criminal activity.

Police say they were able to respond quickly because they were already close by.

"We have been putting additional officers into those areas where we know tourists are going to be with summer coming and people visiting town," Michaud said.