Frustration is boiling over in Seattle about repeat offenders – especially the violent ones.
A series of crimes in the downtown corridor, including the downtown Seattle shooting that hurt seven people and killed one, has businesses and people calling for change.
The crimes have a mother in Tukwila saying she can no longer stay silent about her son’s killing.
Kim McComb-Buehler’s son was stabbed and killed outside the downtown Macy’s by a repeat violent offender who brutally assaulted another victim less than a year before killing her son.
“He was known for his humor,” McComb-Buehler said. “He would do anything to make anybody happy.”
Time has not eased her pain, but now she is speaking out about her son’s story in hopes it will help change the criminal justice system.
Her son, Coulton McComb-Buehler, was stabbed by a man who she believes was a stranger to him. He bled out and died on the sidewalk in front of the downtown Seattle Macy’s on Sept. 30, 2014. He was 23 years old.
“I miss his laugh. I miss him hugging his children,” she said. “It hurts.” His daughter, Sophia, is now 10 years old.
“He would always take me to the zoo, the aquarium,” Sophia said.
“I feel that it’s my duty and my son would want me to step up and be his voice. Help protect other families, children, from the violence that’s going on and the violence that took his life,” Kim McComb-Buehler said.
Victor Tahir, 22, was convicted of stabbing and killing her son. McComb-Bueler said Tahir never should have had that opportunity.
“As a matter of fact, he had committed a crime 364 days prior to the murder of my son,” she said.
That prior crime was a brutal beating at a downtown Seattle Starbucks at Second Avenue and Pike Street, on Sept. 29, 2013.
The video is hard to watch.
Prosecutors say the man holding the yellow cone is Tahir. He used it to repeatedly hit the victim before switching to an orange metal chair. He smashed that again and again over the victim lying on the floor, knocking him unconscious.
Police said at the time, Tahir was well known to them.
“The defendant has a long history of arrests for weapons, drug obstruction and assault offenses. He is homeless, unemployed, and spends most of his time on the street in downtown Seattle,” court documents said.
But for some reason, prosecutors did not charge Tahir with assault in that case – at least, not at first.
The police superform says, "This case was sent to the King County Prosecutor's Office after the victim was identified for a filing decision, but was apparently not logged in for review."
The records department for the King County Prosecutor’s Office said over the phone that according to its databases, it never received the case.
McComb-Buehler says that answer is not enough.
“They knew it was him (Tahir), and they hadn't charged him. I feel there was negligence most definitely,” she said.
So Tahir stayed free and the case was seemingly forgotten, until almost exactly one year later.
Photos from police evidence show Coulton McComb-Buehler and a friend getting out of their car for some reason around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2014. They got into an argument with a group of people, and that led to a fight.
Photos taken by a nearby taxi driver show McComb-Buehler going down and someone leaning over him. He was stabbed in the arms, ribs and chest. One of the stab wounds punctured his heart.
Documents say, “The small knife, which was in Tahir’s possession at the time McComb was stabbed, had McComb’s blood on it and has been forensically identified as having caused one of the two stab wounds in McComb’s chest.”
Only after police arrested Tahir for stabbing and killing 23-year-old McComb-Buehler, did prosecutors finally charge him for the Starbucks assault.
“They had made a mistake in not charging him and quickly paddled backwards,” Kim McComb-Buehler said. “For years now, I’ve wanted to tell my son’s story because I feel justice has not been done.”
She said it’s traumatizing to see ongoing examples of violent criminals who are arrested, then not charged or released, only to offend again and hurt more people.
KIRO7’s Deedee Sun spoke with McComb-Buehler days before another round of chaos erupted; a mass shooting in downtown Seattle.
The tumultuous scene was just yards away from where her son was stabbed to death five years ago.
Then there is a case from July 2019, where police say a man stabbed three random victims outside the Nordstrom flagship store.
He had been released from jail earlier in the year after attacking a woman at a mental health facility.
In another case in 2019, a man is accused of beating a homeless man unconscious with a cone, then a month later, police say he randomly attacked a woman who was attending a conference at the Downtown Convention Center.
And there’s the case of the Richardsons, a couple from Oregon. They were visiting Seattle for a Mariners game when a man attacked them with a baseball bat. The random assault broke James Richardson’s jaw and gave Melanie Richardson a traumatic brain injury.
That suspect had been released from jail 10 days before the attack and has a history of assault and mental health issues. The Richardsons filed a lawsuit against Seattle and King County for negligence in August 2019.
“We can’t make those types of mistakes when we’re in that position of authority and justice,” McComb-Buehler said.
After her son’s killing, the torment continued.
The second-degree murder charges filed against Tahir pleaded down to second-degree manslaughter.
“Utter disbelief. We were in shock,” McComb-Buehler said. “That’s not justice for my son.”
Sun requested an interview with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg or Patrick Hinds, the prosecutor who handled the case, to ask about why the charge was pleaded down.
The King County prosecuting attorney’s office didn’t make anyone available for an interview but said in a statement, “Mr. Tahir’s plea deal was based on evidentiary issues that developed after the case was filed. In order to hold Mr. Tahir accountable for the death of the victim, a plea deal was reached between both parties.”
Last year, Sun spoke with Satterberg how the county files felony charges.
“We have a system set up to incentivize an early plea. And so we will file conservatively up front, expect someone to take responsibility early on, and then not have to go to trial and face all that expense,” Satterberg said in May 2019.
McComb-Buehler is convinced the manslaughter plea for Tahir came from that conservative filing philosophy.
“They plead him down to manslaughter-two. The original charge was murder-two. That’s a pretty big plea -- for what?” she said.
Tahir spent one year, seven months and 12 days in prison for his role in stabbing and killing Coulton McComb-Buehler.
Since then, the Washington State Department of Corrections said Tahir has been in and out of custody five times for supervision violations.
Kim McComb-Buehler’s experience, and the many other examples of violent repeat offenders, has her calling for changes in how criminals are prosecuted.
“There cannot be lenience here. Let’s get them out of the streets, out of the communities. Do what they can to be rehabilitated citizens but have them do their punishment for the crime that they did,” McComb-Buehler said, “so another family doesn’t have this happen.”
Police documents show at least one other suspect was involved in Coulton McComb-Buehler’s stabbing -- Arraivon Robinson. The documents say, “He admitted getting a large knife from Guider and to stabbing McComb in the right shoulder with it as he ran past him away from the scene.”
However, the documents say the autopsy found no wound in McComb’s right shoulder/arm and Robinson was never charged. He also has a violent history and had been released from prison just three months prior after serving time for assault with a deadly weapon.
After Tahir was released from prison, he was arrested again for a violent road rage incident in downtown Seattle at Broadway and Cherry Street in March 2019. That time, prosecutors found he had “a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, which had been shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce.”
Federal agents got involved, and Tahir is currently in the SeaTac Federal Detention Center.
McComb-Buehler said you can follow her effort to fight for change in a Facebook page she created for her son, facebook.com/Justice4Coulton/
To see Deedee’s previous reports on repeat criminals, follow the links below.
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