King County deputies search for suspect in connection to Sound Transit light rail attack

SEATTLE — King County deputies are searching for a woman in connection to an assault on a Sound Transit light rail on April 21.

KIRO 7 News spoke with the victim, Chris Blea, about the attack.

“I was shocked. I was stunned,” she said.

Blea said she was talking with her friend on the light rail while they were traveling to watch the Seattle Reign play when a woman hit her with a Gatorade bottle with no warning near the Capital Hill light rail station.

“She took a Gatorade bottle and just hit you like a bat upside the head,” Blea said a passenger told her. “My head hit the bar behind us. It was just boom. I was like what just happened.”

“I ended up with a concussion, whiplash. When I went to the doctor, I had fluid in my ear,” Blea added.

Blea said she believes in the light rail system but has become more hesitant to ride it since the attack.

“I’m a little bit leery still to get back on the light rail,” she shared. “I want to believe it was a one-off. I have to believe it’s going to be safe.”

“I want us to work together as a community. I want us to find this person. I want her to be brought to justice. I do think we need to work together as a community to make sure our city remains safe,” she added.

There have been a number of violent incidents on light rail over the past year, including a 37-year-old man who was stabbed to death a couple of weeks ago.

This year, there have been 44 assaults on the light rail, the agency told KIRO 7 News.

“Without minimizing how serious any attack is, light rail is still very safe, serving more than 2 million passengers each month,” said a spokesperson for Sound Transit.

Officials told KIRO 7 News that they currently have 500 security staff members to keep passengers safe, including a new team of Public Safety and Security Field Activity Specialists that’s available 24 hours a day for seven days a week, which has decreased their average response time to incidents by more than half, from 10 minutes to five minutes.

Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 to anyone who has information that can lead to an arrest and charge.

“It’s (safety) extremely important. You expect to feel safe when you’re out and about in public and especially on a communal rail like that,” said Jim Fuda, director for Crime Stoppers of the Puget Sound. “We are a community, and we are only as strong as our citizens. Let’s keep our neighborhood safe. Let’s report things to the police if you feel something is not right, and it makes it safer for everybody.”

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