Man breaks into King County Courthouse; officials seek option to develop property

SEATTLE -- Yet another incident at the King County Courthouse has local lawmakers concerned about security.

Security cameras caught a man breaking into the facility in the middle of the night the day after Christmas. Security guards say they were forced to pepper spray him before he was arrested by Seattle Police.

“There was some debris in the lock mechanism that caused it to not secure property,” said Anthony Wright, Director of the King County Facilities Management Division. “We’ve disassembled it, cleaned it, so that it’s working as well as it can while we try to find a replacement system.”

The break-in is yet another incident highlighting criminal activity surrounding the courthouse. Employees, judges and the public have complained about taunts and assaults.

Last year an attorney was attacked, which was also caught on camera.

The problems got so bad a judge ordered the main entrance closed until officials could come up with ways to keep visitors and employees safe.

“The streets of the city are not safe,” said councilmember Peter von Reichbauer. “In many ways, the courthouse is the canary in the coal mine. If people are not safe in the building that supposedly houses justice, where are they safe in the city of Seattle?”

The council has already approved more than half a million dollars to address security concerns.

The suspect who allegedly broke into the courthouse is 46-year-old Jacob Jackson from Seattle. He has been charged with burglary and is being held in jail on $250,000 bail.

Court records reveal he has racked up a dozen felony convictions and dozens more for lesser crimes. Plus, he has multiple open cases with Seattle’s municipal court.

The King County Council Government Accountability and Oversight Committee chair, von Reichbauer, says it is looking to potentially sell the property which could pay for a new courthouse.

“This land is now very valuable, we could perhaps sell part of the current existing footprint and pay for any changes of a new courthouse,” he said.

The current courthouse is more than 100 years old.