The owner of an autobody shop near the “police-free” CHOP zone in Seattle said in an interview Tuesday that police never responded to 19 emergency calls about a break-in that included a suspect trying to burn his business down.
KIRO 7, a news channel in the city, interviewed John McDermott and his son Mason. The two described a chaotic scene that included one person trying to set his counter inside the store on fire. They said they managed to catch up to the suspect and pin him to the ground. They called 911 but police never showed up.
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“They alluded they were sending someone…finally said they weren’t going to send somebody,” John McDermott said. “I don’t know what to expect next. If you can’t call the police department, you can’t call the fire department to respond, what do you have? Heartbroken. I mean, they are the cavalry.”
Carmen Best, the city’s embattled police chief, has insisted that the zone in the Capitol Hill neighborhood is not a “cop free zone.” She told the Associated Press that police did receive a call about the fire and break-in.
“The officers responded to the call and they observed the location from a distance. They did not see any signs of smoke or fire or anything else and they did not see a disturbance,” she said. She said police have responded to crimes there and have written up multiple crime reports from the zone.
“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” she said. “I think that the picture has been painted in many areas that shows the city is under siege. That is not the case.”
The city has been under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that police no longer have access to the East Precinct. The AP reported that police pulled back after violent clashes with protesters.
John McDermott said his son and some of the protesters were armed.
“It could have really gotten out of hand,” he said. He said he agrees with the core message of the protests but is concerned about the lack of police response.
“Nobody showed up when, literally, our lives are on the line,” he said. “I think the mayor and the governor need to get their act together—because this is beyond a protest,” he said.