SEATTLE - Seattle Police say that a group of burglars are targeting homeowners of Asian descent who are living in South Seattle. In some cases, these suspects threaten their children.
During one of the crimes, the robbers threatened a 10-year-old by pointing a gun at the child's head and walking them through the home.
"There is a lot of traffic at night up and down the streets. You really have to watch," said Zada Hall, a Rainier View resident.
Hall runs a daycare at her home and also serves as the unofficial neighborhood watch.
"A couple months ago, there was a guy peeping into the window on the side of the house, so it’s really been bad," said Hall.
With a recent rash of armed home invasions in the area, she's already on high alert.
"I call if I see somebody in somebody else’s yard," said Hall. "I’m pretty observant because I have a home daycare and I have children. So, I’m really watching and making sure they are safe."
Police say a crew of three to seven robbers, brandishing guns and wearing ski masks, have been forcing their way into homes.
"They are essentially holding the folks in the house hostage until they take whatever items of value they can find in the house," said South Precinct commander and acting captain Robert Brown.
Brown says the group has also been traumatizing children.
"One of them in particular alarmed me. It was where there was a 10-year-old resident in the house, a 10-year-old kid. They were leading the kid around the house with a gun to his head, asking the kid where the valuables are," said Brown.
In some cases, Brown says there has been a 15 to 20-minute delay in reporting the crimes due to a language barrier.
"It’s clear whoever is committing these, is scoping out and deciding which place they are going to go to strike," said Brown.
Residents expressed concerns during a community meeting on Wednesday.
"Was there any communication to the Asian community on this because that’s actually disturbing? My parents live in south Seattle, and they are probably prime targets," said a resident at that meeting.
"Getting this information out there is why I brought it up this evening," said Brown.
Hall says neighbors should also look out for one another.
"The neighbors should stick together they should talk back and forth and watch each other’s back, that’s the best thing you can do," said Hall.
Brown says investigators are putting a high priority on solving these home invasions because they are concerned that the violence could escalate. He says he wants to avoid someone getting hurt, or killed.
"It’s very, very concerning for me. One of my highest concerns right now because of potential for future incidents of gun violence, future potential loss of life, the risk this poses to community members, to police officers and quite frankly, even the criminals perpetrating these crimes. I’d hate to see loss of life for any of the above," said Brown.