SEATTLE — A man was killed in a chaotic altercation between an angry group of people from a South Lake Union homeless encampment, and a Seattle couple who had gone to the encampment to locate items stolen from them in a recent burglary, according to King County prosecutors.
Seattle police originally responded to a hit-and-run at 3 p.m. July 27 at a large tent encampment at Dexter Avenue North and Mercer Street, according to court documents.
Police said a couple had driven to the encampment hoping to locate items stolen from a recent car prowl, with their 2-year-old son secured in a car seat. The man who drove the car told police he located his shoes and a Bluetooth speaker, and he took them back to his car.
Police said the couple was immediately attacked by several people in the camp. The driver was seen on surveillance video being hit in the back with a 5-foot wooden pole, while another man attacked the driver and smashed the windows of the car with a machete, according to prosecutors. More people from the encampment joined the fight with rocks and sticks, and police said a woman from the camp began fighting with the female passenger of the car.
The driver was desperately trying to get away and sped through the crowd, hitting and killing a man who was part of the group surrounding the car.
A nearby business owner, who asked only to be called “Steve,” saw the aftermath and video taken by witnesses.
“It was a car being attacked,” he said. “Being surrounded by people from this encampment. And they were bashing the car to pieces with bars, sticks, whatever they had. Then the car made a run for it to break through this crowd.”
He added, “One of the guys who was surrounding the car got thrown up into the air and then run over by this vehicle.”
Seattle police arrested two men who lived in the encampment for attacking the couple with a wooden pole and a machete. John Henry Rosser IV, 39, and Mario J. Miller, 53, both lived in the camp and have extensive criminal histories, according to prosecutors. Miller is a 12-time felon in Washington and California, and Rosser is a nine-time felon.
Prosecutors don’t expect the couple to be charged with the death of the man they hit with their car.
“Since Denny Park (encampment) closed down, these are the worst of these types of people,” Steve said. “It’s almost the center of crime here.”
Steve told KIRO 7 the camp has become increasingly dangerous, and he feels powerless to ask the city of Seattle for help.
“There is just a few businesses here,” he said. “And we don’t have a loud enough voice to get rid of these people.”
Both Rosser and Miller will be arraigned Aug. 18.
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