SEATTLE – Besides Monday’s violent rape in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, there has been a series of other high-profile crimes in the area – and many who live and work there say sometimes it’s hard to ignore a possible connection to the homeless crisis.
But on Thursday, hundreds lined the streets without fear for the neighborhood’s 17th of May Festival. The parade was scheduled to begin around 6 p.m. and the recent crimes in the neighborhood didn’t keep many families from enjoying the festival.
But there were some business employees who told Q13 News they don’t feel as safe as they did only a few years ago.
“In the last five years the changes have been so drastic that it’s not even the same place it was when I was growing up,” said Rebekah Casey.
Casey is the store manager at Ballard Blossom and she said business hasn’t been normal for at least a few years.
“We’ve had people defecate in our planters that our employees have had to clean up,” said Casey. “That’s not something we want them to have to do but we want to make this an inviting place for our customers.”
“It’s not so much the homelessness, it’s the unsanctioned encampments that people are coming here from other areas to kind of wreak havoc on our neighborhoods and pillage what they will,” said north Seattle broker Kristin Frosaker.
Frosaker says selling homes in north Seattle can get tricky while dodging needles and calming concerned buyers.
“A million-dollar home, you’d think that you’re set and in a safe spot but the bottom line is with these elements all of the homelessness, and unfortunately some of the elements that come with that, it starts feeling very unsafe,” said Frosaker.
The most recent assault and rape at Carter Volkswagen is the tip of the iceberg, say some.
Last November, in nearby Fremont, a man was deliberately set on fire. Last month, an older man was found shot to death inside his RV – and only a few weeks ago another man was shot and killed in Ballard only blocks away from Monday’s alleged rape.
It’s enough to make some think twice about coming into work early or stay late. Some, say Casey, carry pepper spray or Tasers for their own safety.
“It’s not something you would think you’d need in a community like this,” she said.
The suspect in Monday’s rape and assault case is behind bars and expected to face a judge Friday.