SEATTLE — Seattle police said they have arrested a suspect behind at least one of the bias crimes targeting the Asian community during the pandemic. They arrested a man in Valdok Apartments near 17th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 56th Street around noon on Tuesday.
Residents in the Ballard neighborhood have been victims of racism every day over the past few days. They have received racist notes, and have been yelled at, threatened, and even attacked.
On the evening of Memorial Day, Seattle police said a man chased an Asian couple down the street in Ballard.
The next day, officers made an arrest.
They’re still looking into how many racist crimes the suspect is involved in, police said. Meanwhile, Ballard residents are hoping the arrest will bring peace.
“It freaked me out,” said a young woman in the Ballard neighborhood. She said she and her boyfriend have received multiple derogatory messages on their car.
“We saw a note on the car and it said CCP Ch*** on there,” she said. The “CCP” presumably refers to the Chinese Communist Party.
She was worried about sharing her name and said someone was watching them, because they moved the car but the next day, someone left a message on the same car again.
“Someone had written on his window ‘F*** China’ on both sides. So it was pretty bad,” she said.
Nick Jiang, another victim, said he had a similar experience. He was at a stoplight at 17th and Market Street when he said someone started banging on his trunk. He thought he might’ have clipped someone, so rolled down the window.
“He pointed the windshield wiper through the window almost to my face,” Jiang said. “Then he basically demanded that I recite the Pledge of Allegiance."
Jiang said the suspect then shoved the same “CCP China” note on his windshield. As he drove away, the suspect threw a windshield wiper after him.
Lauri Miller, who lives in the neighborhood, said she heard a commotion on Monday night and saw a man yelling at an Asian couple. She said the man started walking away, but then things escalated.
“He turned back around and started running full tilt towards them and they were not looking behind them. And I yelled ‘look out!’ really loud, and they turned around and saw him and started running,” Miller said.
She said someone on a bike intervened, and eventually people saw the suspect enter the Valdok Apartments building. The next day around noon, at least a half-dozen Seattle police officers showed up and went inside the building. They believe he’ is involved in at least the bias incident on Monday night.
People in the neighborhood said it was a relief.
“Ohhh yeah, oh yeah,” Miller said. “If he's in custody, that's fabulous. It’s a very good start,” she said.
The arrest comes after a man repeatedly harassed Thai Thani Restaurant in Ballard and police shared a photo the restaurant employees took as a person of interest.
That suspect also shouted racial slurs at visitors at Golden Gardens.
Police said they are still working to confirm if the person arrested Tuesday is also behind the other bias crimes they are investigating.
Despite the arrest, the incidents have people on edge.
“I have to carry pepper spray,” the young woman in Ballard said. “ Just scared for something to happen,” she said.
Police are still looking for information on another incident caught on camera in Downtown Seattle, where a suspect shoved and spat on an Asian couple, telling them, “It's all your fault.”
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