King County Courthouse closes Third Avenue entrance after random, violent attacks

SEATTLE -- The King County Courthouse's entrance on Third Avenue will be closed for the rest of the year after multiple acts of violence and safety concerns.

Superior Court Presiding Judge James E. Rogers issued the order Monday afternoon, five days after surveillance video captured the brutal and random attack on a defense attorney who was walking to the courthouse for work. 

A bus driver and a county court marshal had to intervene, and police eventually tased the man to try and stop the assault.

“The safety conditions at the Third Avenue entrance to the Courthouse have deteriorated, jeopardizing the public safety of any attempting to enter or leave," the order states. "This Court receives constant reports of assaults committed against litigants, jurors, attorneys, members of the public and employees. These safety conditions have the effect of discouraging and denying access and therefore justice to all who would seek it from our Court. It discourages jury service.”

The closure starts at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will last until Jan. 1, 2020. Only people with disabilities will be allowed to use the Third Avenue entrance. Everyone else will have to use the Fourth Avenue entrance or the underground tunnel entrance from the county administration building.

Meanwhile, King County Council members have asked Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best to attend a meeting next week to work on solutions for making the busy intersection of Third Avenue and James Street safer.

Seattle Police responded with a statement that reads, in part:

"The Seattle Police Department cares deeply about the safety of all who have business at the King County Courthouse.

Since October 2018, West Precinct Captain Tom Mahaffey has detailed foot-beat officers to patrol the 3rd Avenue side of the Courthouse.

In addition to these foot patrols, West Precinct Bicycle officers and members of the Anti-Crime Team act as a supplemental presence, conducting operations and proactive patrols in area surrounding the courthouse.

While these officers will remain in place at the Courthouse, they are shared from other resources responsible for providing 911 emergency services throughout the West Precinct, including Pioneer Square, Chinatown-International District, Downtown, Queen Anne, and Magnolia.

We continue to work with Courthouse staff and the King County Sheriff’s Office to implement crime prevention strategies that address safety concerns and improves the experience of all visitors.”