Details of the 3/17/04 Murder at Miller Community Center

Newspaper accounts of the tragedy:

Seattle Times 3/18/04

Seattle P-I 3/18/04

Seattle PI 3/19/04: "Neighbors unaware man shot by police was sex offender"- much new information about the murderer and about the Sex Offender notification process.

Seattle PI 3/20/04: "Single mother who was slain was working for a better life"

TV Stations' accounts:

KOMO TV

KING TV

KIRO TV

The murderer was a level 3 Sex Offender. I received this Offender Bulletin about him on the afternoon of 3/16/04 and alerted the neighborhood E-mail list about him that evening.

(Later)

Seattle PI (3/26/04): Offenders' history must be checked

Seattle Times (3/26/04):YWCA worker was sex offender


Seattle Times Local Digest, 3/19/04

Man fatally shot by police had lengthy criminal record


SEATTLE - The Level 3 sex offender who was shot and killed by police Wednesday at the Miller Community Center has been identified as Lawrence J. Owens.


The woman Owens killed just minutes before, outside the center, has not been identified.
Owens, 43, had a criminal record that included several assaults, attempted kidnapping and attempted first-degree murder in Pierce County, which he pleaded down to malicious mischief.


Several of the crimes involved women with whom Owens had relationships, said Seattle police spokeswoman Deanna Nollette.


Police say the woman who died was trying to end her relationship with Owens when she was shot. Responding officers chased Owens into the building and killed him after he pointed a gun at them.


From Captain Hill

The two primary officers were McDonald and Pruitt. They arrived on
scene within a minute or two of the first shots being fired. The suspect
was outside reloading his saw-off shotgun as they arrived.

At the same time Red Cross workers and others (about 30 in all) were
scuurying about the lower level near the kitchen and gym.

The suspect reentered the building via the first level glass doors and
headed up the stairs. Then he turned mid-way up to shoot it out with the
officers who were no more than 20 feet away.

The officers did do a good job. I got there within 10 minutes of the
first shots and the entire facility had already been contained. Some
bystanders were being placed in more secure portions of the building and
other officers had gone over to the school to order a lockdown.

All in all - things could have been much worse.

I will convey your thanks onto all involved.

Capt Fred Hill

East Precinct


Notes from Andrew's phone call with Gina Sazby, Director of Miller Community Center

1) The Miller custodian was present during the shootings: he's mentioned in some media reports.

2) Miller was closed Thursday for decontamination and for replacement of much of the (bloodstained) upstairs carpet. Will be open by this weekend.

3) Staff have all received councilling.

4) Parks is reviewing its arrangement with Red Cross for handling security at Red Cross shelter events at Miller. During such events the nearest convenient Community Center is chosen. 2 Miller staff have been trained in appropriate responses and have trained other Miller staff.

5) After the shootings, all Miller staff (and kids?) were sent to Garfield CC, where they remained on Thursday.

6) Miller staff did have the guy's Sex Offender notification and were on the lookout for him. He's put on so much weight since the photo in the bulletin that they were unable to identify him [Indeed: the bulletin shows the face of a slim-looking man and notes his weight as 260 lbs].

 


 

Neighborhood reactions:

From Ann Donovan <ann@elephantsandants.com>

I found out at last week's community council meeting that the Miller
Community Center was being used as a Red Cross shelter for about 600 of
residents of the Jensonia, an apartment building (at 8th and Seneca I
believe) which had a fire and was condemned. I presume that the numbers
staying there have declined over the past week and people have made
arrangements elsewhere. Many regularly scheduled events and activities at
the Miller Community Center have been suspended but you will want to
contact Miller Center staff directly to learn more.

If you wish to help fire victims a City of Seattle employee suggested that
you contact the local Red Cross chapter directly
(http://www.seattleredcross.org/)

Coincidentally, this shelter has one level 3 sex offender staying at it and
this morning there was a shooting. (Please don't penalize the many
residents in need of assistance for the actions of a few).


Andrew,

The terrible event at Miller Park Community Center this morning raises some important questions, among them

This is only the beginning of the list.

Kay Rood


I'm tagging onto Kay Rood's message. I extend my most sincere thoughts to
you, to the Staff at Miller, to all those in your neighborhood who now feel,
yet again, the vulnerability and disruptive unease of such an event as
happened today.
And I'm so angry about this. Like Kay, I ask, "How can this continue to
happen, how can our witness to a tragedy such as this go unheeded?" Of
course, we know the answer. And we must insist that the Mayor and Chief of
Police be accountable for this life lost.


From Gary Clark <garyrc47@msn.com>

I don't live anywhere near the Miller Park community center [site of the latest shooting], nor Cal Anderson Park for that matter, and my little slice of the Hill is quite safe. However, we are all in this together and I again recommend that those of you and those on your lists who have NOT already phoned or e-mailed the 9 city council members should do so at once and make our views known while the white light of publicity is on Capitol Hill over this latest murder---we should demand unequivocally that the full $400,000 for the east precinct public safety initiative be restored. Remember, the full council votes on this in early April and all we need is 5 votes to restore the funding. This is still very achievable, but only if people speak up! PS---my emails are in, starting with the 4 council members [Conlon, McIver, Rasmusson and Drago] who met with the Mayor behind closed doors to cut this funding.


His letter to Councilmembers:

Today, as you know, a woman was murdered in front of the Miller Park community center on Capitol Hill. The shooter was shot by police as he tried to enter the center and Meany Middle School was shut down. This is just the latest in the upward spiral of violence and crime the public up here as been warning about for months, and which the full council responded to last November when it approved $400,000 in NEW funding [from previously allocated Cal Anderson Park field improvement funds] to benefit the SPD's entire East Precinct. I am addressing this to you since I understand you met with the Mayor's Office BEHIND CLOSED DOORS to eliminate this funding. Regardless of the Mayor's unfathomable disregard for the safety of East Precinct residents, I am calling on you to lead the effort to restore the full $400,000 in the light of this most recent example of violent crime up here. I am also calling on you, and your fellow council members, to INCREASE SPD funding in the new 2005-6 biennium budget now being prepared. I await your response, and will share with it with Capitol Hill e-mail lists totaling nearly 1000 registered east precinct voters.


The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly supports Gary's
comments. Today's sad event is just the tip of the iceberg. As spring
arrives with better weather, our community is again seeing increased
vagrancy, aggressive panhandling, and assaults.

Capitol Hill's dense business and residential areas are large contributors
to the City's limited tax revenues. If you continue to allow our situation
to deteriorate, we will be unable to provide those contributions.

As our united community made clear last fall, we hold the City responsible
for basic public safety and social services which our neighborhood cannot
provide for itself. We need these services now.

Charles Hamilton
Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce


Hi Chief, (to Police Chief and Councilmembers)
it's me again
crime may be down (I still do not believe it) in any event, the perception of it sure is not
and the shootings seem to be increasing in this area -- as you are all aware -- just March 3 I reported on shootings in this same area with bullets going by people sitting within their own homes

what will it take to get a plan on the table to get more than one loaner bike squad in our Precinct ? what has to happen before the powers that be start dealing with these problems issues -- do we need dead school children to get our understaffed Police Dept properly staffed and utilized? We are still 23% below what we should have and no plan in sight to deal with that and no plan to deal with minimizing the shootings, drugging, break-ins, etc. is in sight either. There is a collision course coming at this City -- the responsibility to circumvent that rests in your hands -- we citizens can only do so much.

Catherine Brumbaugh


Capt. Hill and Officers of the East Precinct

Please pass on my gratitude to the officers in our East Precinct for the fine job they have been doing; particularly yesterday when they faced an armed murderer at the Miller Center. The heroism of the police officers in our Precinct should be commended. Putting one's life on the line to protect other citizens is not something everyone is willing to do. Especially with the paltry salaries earned in exchange for continuous exposure to potential personal harm. The dedication of our officers is inspiring, and I am very grateful for their willingness to engage criminals that we may be safe from harm.

I am saddened to see the lack of support the Mayor and City Council gives to our police force. As you are aware, the various communities that comprise the East Precinct have worked very hard over the past decade, and especially over the past year to help improve public safety and our quality of life. The different groups lobbied for funding for a fully dedicated bike squad (something lacking in our Precinct). Additionally, funding was requested to keep Randy Nelson's services as a Street Outreach Worker. He has made great strides in getting youth off the street -- much greater return for a paltry $30,000 than the millions the City spends for homeless and yet they remain among us -- still homeless.

You, as well as the Community, know that with approaching spring and summer, the constant problems we suffer in our Precinct will return in full force. Yesterday is but the opening salvo to the coming spring/summer crime spree -- public drug dealing, loitering, over abundance of drug paraphernalia in our parks, public intoxication/drug abuse and the associated crimes and assaults -- drug dealers living and selling in our buildings, being accosted as walking down Broadway, stores vandalized, vehicles vandalized, buildings graffitied (a much lesser crime but serious affects nonetheless, public sex in our yards, stolen vehicles, -- the list goes on and on and on. The Community has put the Mayor and the City Council on notice that this HAS TO STOP.

Yet, despite this, and despite all the Community's hard work, despite the Mayor's "17 point (in)action plan", nothing tangible has been done to support the East Precinct communities ("EPC") or the EP police. Contrary to the public photo-ops our Mayor is so fond of, the real truth about him and his plans (or no plans) for our communities is to undermine the citizens and threaten our daily quality of living. The EPC have discovered the Mayor, and his Office, has been lobbying to get the Police Department to claim they do not want the extra money for the bike squad, to call upon the Police Department and other City community leaders to accuse the EPC of "micro-managing" the police -- the Mayor's concerted attempts to block the EPC from a solution to the severe public safety issues the EPC faces -- DAILY.

WORSE, the Mayor and various City Council Members, have been having closed door budget hearings while they cut deals. They are skirting the City ethic laws by limiting the number of them present at these meetings. No public meetings are planned. Additionally, they are rushing the vote on the budget to March 29, rather than in April as was announced. Further attempts to skirt the citizenry. The EPC stands to lose the $400k it lobbied the City Council for the EP bike squad -- and to add insult to injury -- the $400k was coming from dedicated park improvement funds to pay for this -- (that it not come out of the General Fund in these tight economic times the Community agreed public safety was a higher priority and thus agreed to forego that improvement) -- the Mayor essentially snatched that money too and so essentially he has robbed the EPC of $800,000 -- with the tacit agreement of at least 4 City Council members. The Council agreed the Community needed this -- the money was coming from money the Community initially was told could be spent no other way -- and since the Community found a way to spend it to benefit the Community -- the Mayor and City Council decided to take it to cut their deals among themselves. I call upon the City Council to stand by its Fall 2003 decision and let the Community keep its money and use it as it wants for public safety. A trust to the Community is at stake.

Capt Hill. Again, please give a big thank you to the officers of the EP. Tell them the EPC support them, and we will not give up the fight for public safety - for our Precinct and for all the City Precincts -- even if it means we have to be patient and wait for voting in a different Mayor and different Council Members (especially those circumventing the public through closed door meetings with the Mayor -- we have a list -- sad, I actually liked one of them, believing him to be a man of integrity [the rest are too new to form an opinion -- oh yeah, now it is being formed]). It is also sad that our so called "leaders" are not supportive of public safety and human services in the EPC -- just paying public lip service. They will not, however, be able to bypass us forever -- as it is well known -- "justice will prevail." We refuse to fade into the woodwork and just be a photo-op Community politicians court during election times and forget immediately upon the vote.

Catherine G. Brumbaugh
Capitol Hill Resident

Councilmembers,

Yesterday's shooting deaths at Miller Community Center underscore our continuing serious problems with public safety on Capitol Hill and the East Precinct.

I am writing once more to urge you to do the right thing and restore the $400,000 for the East Precinct Public Safety Initiative that was allocated last fall by Council after vigorous and united communication from residents, businesses and community organizations here.

We understand that there is a great deal of negative misrepresentation from the Mayor's office about the origin, need, application and efficacy of this initiative. We also understand that rather a lot of effort is being expended to divide not only the community but the Council itself on the matter.

The manner in which the current budget decisions are being made appears to be a kind of new low in Seattle governance. The cynicism and bad faith that this exhibits is positively breathtaking.

For the record:
The $400,000 is "swapped out" from a park playfield project, and therefore does not reduce police funds from other precincts.
It supports an innovative public safety study the results of which would be applicable city-wide.
It would give needed relief to E. Precinct communities which have demonstrated serious problems with sharp rises in burglary, car theft, drug use and selling, aggressive panhandling and general widespread street violence.

Seattle citizens in the E. Precinct are united in asking you to uphold the independence and integrity of the City Council and restore the funds you allocated last fall. Do it in the memory of the woman who was murdered in front of the Miller Community Center yesterday.

Kay Rood