Police arrest 13 year old after woman's purse stolen at West Seattle pharmacy

Police arrested a 13-year-old boy accused of stealing a woman's purse and assaulting her at a West Seattle pharmacy. The incident was captured on surveillance video.

According to the Seattle Police Department, officers responded to reports of a strong-arm robbery at a pharmacy located in the 2600 block of Southwest Barton Street. The victim told police that an employee confronted a group of teenagers inside the store for purportedly not paying for items, which she also made a comment about.

The woman stated to law enforcement that one of the teens approached her and forcibly took her purse before making a dash towards the pharmacy exit. In pursuit, she managed to catch up to him at the entrance. However, she reported that the teenager then grabbed her shirt and forcefully threw her to the ground. Despite her attempts to chase after him, the situation escalated when he allegedly struck her multiple times in the face.

The teen suspect, along with the group, fled eastbound on Southwest Barton Street. The victim contacted the authorities, leading officers to locate the suspect and two other teenagers near 18th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Barton Street.

The 13-year-old boy was taken into custody and booked into the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center on suspicion of robbery, while the other two individuals were identified and subsequently released.

Emergency medical services provided treatment to the victim at the scene.

Crimes like these raise questions about whether the 'no cells, no locks' approach can be effective.

Ryan Shirley, lives four blocks away from where the robbery was reported. While he says things have remained safe for the last two years he says he's seen his fair share of similar incidents. 

"There's a lot of attempts to help curb this stuff If the money is misguided, and there's not the appropriate resources being spent in the appropriate places, at least from what I can see," Shirley said.

He's not alone. Tary Nelson, who wrapped up her shopping spree at the pharmacy, said "the blatantness of that assault was disgusting. It makes me so sad." 

She's called West Seattle home for more than two decades. Nelson said she witnesses theft like these or from stores regularly, claiming she had just witnessed one moments before.

"They think that nobody's getting hurt, but everybody that's getting hurt," Nelson said.

She says lately, she hardly carries anything inside her purse, just the bare minimum. "Let it go. Let your bag go. Don't chase after them; get as far away from the situation as you can because, unfortunately, this was a situation where there were several of them, but a lot of them have guns," Nelson said. "A lot of them have guns, and you can't walk away from that. 

County auditors met Wednesday to discuss ongoing trends.

King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Spokesperson Casey McNerthney said, "What we're seeing is the numbers are returning to 2019 levels."

A juvenile detention auditor's report shows the number of youth booked into secure detention declined from 2017 to 2023. There were 1,429 youth bookings then, but those numbers have begun to increase again since the first half of 2023.

At the same time, those teens are staying locked up longer, with average stays exceeding 30 days.

"The goal of having better behavioral health services, having more therapeutic alternatives is correct, but we also have to have an answer to what to do with people who commit serious crimes," McNerthney said.

The juvenile detention center will remain open at least until 2028.

The auditor's office also found that staffing shortages are negatively impacting conditions for youth and contributing to low staff morale. Recommendations include a closer examination of the secure detention program and the needs of those staying there longer, as well as conducting performance evaluations for all staff levels to increase opportunities for positive feedback.


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