Seattle business owner frustrated over repeat offenders chases, tackles a gunman

SEATTLE - A Pioneer Square business owner tackled a man who pulled out a gun inside Emerald City Guitars.

It’s the same business Q13 News talked to just last month about repeat offenders targeting their store.  The significance of Friday’s incident isn’t just about the play by play of what happened, it’s a prime example of the mounted frustrations of business owners in Seattle who say the city is out of control.

Jay Boone has called Seattle Police so many times over the years, it's like a part-time job.

“We talked about how many times we've called 911 in the last year, a hundred; we feel like fools calling them up so many times,” Boone said.

But Friday is the first time Boone has ever had a gun pulled on him and his employees.

“He jumps up and pulls a gun out of his pocket starts waving at us,” Boone said.

It all started when Boone says an employee flagged him down telling him there was a burglary suspect shopping in the store.

Boone says the same man actually came in last week and stole a guitar worth more than $3,000.

The employees were 100% certain it was the same suspect because he was caught on camera stealing.

So Boone confronted the man about the theft.

“He tries to fly towards that door which point I grabbed the back of his coat took him to the counter back here and forced him to sit down,” Boone said.

Boone and his employees surrounded the man and called 911.  Minutes later Boone says the suspect suddenly pulled out the gun making a dash for the door.

“One of my employees hit him at the entrance with some bear mace over here and then I gave chase to him,” Boone said.

The business owner says he tackled the man outside, the brawl ending up in an alley.

“I am on top of the guy, he's faced down, he's got the gun in his right hand and he`s trying to bring it up to his body, I have this hand in his face and he bites the finger here,” Boone said.

Seconds later the guns goes off during the scuffle.

“He brings the gun up around my head around here and fires a shot that`s where they think the bullet went through the window right here,” Boone said.

Boone says the bullet appears to have shattered a window of a store next door.

“At that point I went away,” Boone said.

The business owner admits going after someone with a gun is against his better judgment, but his reaction is a culmination of anger and helplessness built up over the years.

“I am appalled, I am angry, I am frustrated over what's going on down here and in our city in general,” Boone said.

Q13 News talked to Boone’s son Trevor in February about a report called System Failure.

The report commissioned by organizations representing thousands of businesses across Seattle highlighted inadequacies in the criminal justice system. It looked at 100 prolific repeat offenders and found that many are addicted to drugs and severely mentally ill.

Business owners say they are at their wit's end dealing with the same people who come back to target and harass their employees and their customers. Business owners say they can call police and get someone arrested, but many times they are back again the next day.

It's a cry for help that Boone says isn’t being heard.

“It doesn't seem like anything is happening in any leadership role from the governor to the mayor to the city council to change anything. It's getting worse, they keep talking throwing money into this, money into this. It's absolutely getting worse,” Boone said.

Boone says if jail is not the answer he wants stricter requirements for people to get into treatment. He says he wants city leaders to put tougher policies in place for people who refuse to get help.

The suspect in this case was identified as Alexander Trader. Boone says Trader initially got away but a customer at Emerald City Guitars spotted him later under the viaduct and lead police to the suspect. Boone says he would like to thank that customer.

Q13 News reached out to the Mayor's Office and council member Sally Bagshaw, who represents Pioneer Square, regarding Boone's concerns. They did not respond on Monday.

More information on Seattle crime statistics is available here