Seattle law enforcement and first responders were involved in a lengthy and tense standoff with a suspect in a domestic violence incident on 30 May 2018 in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I arrived at about 10:00; the police had already been on the scene for about eight hours.
Seattle Police Department PIO Michaud briefed the press at about 11:00. He explained that police responded to a domestic violence call or situation at about 1:30 AM. The person who made the call or who was at risk got away from the situation. The suspect then barricaded himself in his apartment. The suspect was an off duty King County deputy who was on administrative leave following an investigation into a previous incident.
Seattle police resolved the situation peacefully mid-afternoon and provided the following tweet.
In regards to the incident on Belmont, the suspect is safely in custody. Thank you all for your incredible patience. We will have more details as they become available.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) May 30, 2018
The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog (CHS) identified the suspect as Berdon Parsons, a “deputy with the King County Sheriff’s Office since 2015.” (CHS’s Justin and Alex Garland were on the scene throughout the day providing reporting, updates, and photos. For a more thorough overview, please see their coverage.
I have seen similar situations, but I haven’t seen one on this scale. By the time I arrived the police had restricted access to streets around the building. SWAT, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD/bomb squad), Seattle Fire Department, and a mobile command center were on site. I couldn’t get close to the Granada apartments and wasn’t eager to even if I could. The suspect was a law enforcement officer, was likely armed, and was in an elevated position. I walked around the periphery and took in the entire scene.
I have mixed feelings about covering events like this. The situation involved a person in crisis, isolated and possibly armed, and heavily armed police charged with resolving the standoff. Add to this already volatile mix the television crews, photographers, neighbors, spectators, and helicopters. I can be cynical – at times it felt like crisis as entertainment. For example, I was in an alley that offered a view of the apartment building. I quickly leaned around a corner long enough to get a photo of the suspect’s apartment windows. Four people drove up, parked their car in clear view of the windows, got out, and excitedly started taking photos with their phones. They even had their dog with them.
But situations like this do need to be covered. The Seattle Police Department sent its officers into harm’s way. Not just the officers who entered the apartment building, but also the officers at the surrounding intersections who were warning pedestrians and drivers about the situation. They were standing in line of sight of the suspect’s windows. There also needs to be coverage related to law enforcement’s actions and decision-making. I heard a few people ask if the police were treating this situation any differently given that a law enforcement officer was involved. An interesting and fair question.