Residents hoping for arrests in rash of violent attacks

Residents hoping for arrests in rash of violent attacks
SEATTLE -- Police in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood are trying to identify the teenagers accused of committing what residents describe as a rash of beatings over the past few weeks.

"When I heard another man was assaulted, I was completely unsurprised," said neighbor Peter Hoover.

He reported an assault earlier this month after a group of six-to-seven teenagers attacked him at his apartment complex.

He is especially disturbed by how bold the suspects were in the middle of the afternoon.

"When the people assaulted me I pointed out they were on video at the moment and they continued anyway, they didn't care," Hoover said. "They didn't care they were on video. They didn't care they were being reported."

Another resident, Chai Saepharn, said he experienced a similar assault on President's Day.

"I looked back and about three of them followed me to a dark location where there were no city lights and attacked me," said Saepharn.

He escaped after using his backpack to defend himself.

"They got me down, kicked me in the head, kicked me in the stomach, kicked me in the leg. But I got away," he said.

Police are also looking into an assault against a patron of the Rainier Beach library branch last Tuesday evening.

A police report says the male victim walked out of the library, where he was attacked in the parking lot by a group of a half-dozen or so teenage boys who demanded his wallet and cell phone.

They knocked the man down and punched and kicked him before he could run back into the library to call for help.

These are among a series of attacks that have occurred within blocks of each other. Police are tracking reports of an assault at the Rainier Beach Community Center, a nearby Rite Aid store, and a second possible incident at Peter Hoover's apartment complex.

"These teenagers. I think it's the same group responsible for most of these," said Hoover. "It feels like terrorism."

Police say it's too early to know whether it is the same group of young people committing the attacks. Officers who patrol the area are familiar with a group that roams the area and has shown signs of aggressive behavior in the past.

Investigators are working to secure surveillance video of some of the attacks, and say they have identified a suspect in at least one of the cases.

Victim Chai Saepharn says arrests can't come soon enough.

"They need to be stopped, they shouldn't be doing like that, hurting people like that, you know. It's not right," Saepharm said.