SEATTLE - A confrontation between a business owner and people in tents in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood got violent on Wednesday.
The owner of Pioneer Pet Feed and Supply, David James, said it ended with a man punching and kicking him as he was on the ground outside his store.
“I love my store, I love this neighborhood,” James said. But the confrontation that sent him to the hospital put him on edge.
“Every day I come, bracing myself for what I’ll have to encounter,” James said.
He said people living in tents have moved into his street since the Waterfront improvement construction project turned S. Washington Street into a dead-end road a few months ago.
“I’m sensitive to the fact not everybody has a home,” James said. “I have customers from all walks of life,” he said.
But he said the changes are taking a toll.
“It’s making it really hard to do business,” James said.
On Wednesday morning he said two men in a tent were creating a nuisance.
“They started throwing garbage out onto the street. And I’m not necessarily proud of my reaction,” James said. “I had tossed the trash back at them and I said, ‘You dropped something,’” he said.
He said the two men chased him across the street, and he managed to deescalate with one of them.
“I reached my hand out and I’m apologizing, saying I’m sorry I didn’t treat you with dignity and respect,” James said.
But said that man’s friend got aggressive.
“[He] starts yelling at me and I’m backing up saying, 'You need to give me space. You need to leave me alone. Get away from me. If you don’t get away from me I’m going to need to defend myself,'” James said.
He said he held up a fist but believes he never hit the other man.
“I made a fist and I went to go hit him. That is when he unloaded on me, hitting me a bunch of times in the face. I lost my footing. I went to the ground. He was kicking and punching me,” James said.
He said people were nearby, but no one intervened
“The most demoralizing thing about this whole experience was everybody’s apathy in the moment,” James said.
When Seattle police officers on bikes patrolling nearby arrived, James said the man hitting him stopped and left. But he believes the officers should've done much more.
“I can’t quote what they said but I’ll paraphrase. ‘He’s a drug addict on the street, and whoever decides if charges are pressed probably won’t press charges, so there’s no reason to bring him in,’” James said.
“And that person is out there still,” James said. “When I came into work on Friday I was feeling pretty scared. I didn’t remember exactly what the person looked like, so I felt like anybody might be him,” he said.
He has a concussion and scrapes and will be OK, but what happened has him wanting to share his story.
“To encourage people to get involved. Stand up. Say something,” James said. “There has to be some sort of change. We all need to be there for one another,” he said.
Below is some of KIRO 7's previous coverage on victims who were attacked in Seattle:
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