Seattle, WA – A Seattle business owner whose auto shop Car Tender is located on the edge of the newly-renamed Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) area said that police did not respond to his 911 calls when his business was burglarized and set on fire (video below).
John McDermott, co-owner of Car Tender, told KING that he was alerted to a break-in at his business early on Monday morning and called 911 as he and his son drove to the shop to see what had happened.
McDermott told KIRO that the burglar smashed a window to get inside the auto shop.
“Broke into the building, set fire to the front counter,” he said.
The business owner and his son said that the burglar poured hand sanitizer on a cassette tape, pulled out the film, poured hand sanitizer over it on the counter, and the set the whole thing ablaze.
McDermott said he and his son, Mason, arrived right after the suspect started the fire and were able to extinguish it fast, KIRO reported.
The suspect fled from the south side of the building and Mason took off after him.
“I chased him down and as soon as I came face-to-face, he came at me so I put him on the ground,” Mason McDermott said.
He told KIRO that he held the arsonist down while his father called 911, over and over again.
Mason said the suspect struggled to escape.
“At some point, he tried to cut me with a box cutter,” Mason said, pointing to where the knife had slashed his pants.
His father said he called the police emergency number 19 times, KIRO reported.
“They alluded they were sending someone… finally said they weren’t going to send somebody,” McDermott said.
“I don’t know what to expect next. If you can’t call the police department, you can’t call the fire department to respond, what do you have?” the business owner asked. “Heartbroken. I mean, they are the cavalry.”
McDermott said protesters demanded that they release the suspect, so they did, KIRO reported.
“It was either that, or they were coming over and it was going to turn into mayhem beyond mayhem,” he said.
Despite having given in to the angry protesters’ demands, violent rioters began pushing on the chain link fence around the property and knocked it down.
Cell phone videos filmed by bystanders and media in the crowd showed the McDermotts repeatedly telling protesters that they had already released the man who vandalized and set fire to their business.
“There were no police officers on scene ever. And I was here all night long,” McDermott told KING.
“Reportedly, the way the dispatcher was speaking, there was supposedly someone in route, nobody showed up,” he added.
McDermott told KIRO that the protesters were armed and his son was armed, but that his son never pointed his weapon at anyone during the incident.
“It could have really gotten out of hand,” he said.
A representative for what was then called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) named Malcolm told KING that what happened at the Car Tender on Monday was the fault of the Seattle police.
“It tells me that they’re [police] not listening. Maybe. Maybe they are trying to send a message, you know. ‘You guys don’t want the police here, why call us? Call the people that are within the community.’ That’s how I look at it,” Malcolm said.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best explained her department’s lack of response by claiming officers did not have a good contact number for McDermott, KING reported.
However, Chief Best also said officers were not responding inside the recently-renamed CHOP zone unless there was a direct threat to life or safety.
“Nobody showed up when literally our lives are on the line,” Mason told KIRO. “I think the mayor and governor need to get their act together- because this is beyond a protest.”
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scroggins went to Car Tender to talk to McDermott the next day and told him he was looking into why nobody had responded to his 911 calls.
Scroggins said the fire department needed Seattle police approval to respond into the CHOP zone, but because Car Tender was located outside it, there should have been a response, KIRO reported.
“We’re just trying to run a small business, make a living, be good members of society,” McDermott told KING. “And try to be good neighbors to the neighborhood and I think we’ve really been let down by the mayor’s office, the Seattle Police Department and the fire department.”
Watch video of the incident here below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: