Rioters attack police at site of fatal shooting

A roving gang of rioters smashed property and attacked Seattle police with fireworks, flares and fire extinguishers Saturday night near the site where an officer shot a woodcarver to death last August.

The incident began at about 9 p.m. as an officer drove through the intersection at Boren Avenue and Howell Street and came upon a group of what appeared to be anarchists gathering there.

As the officer passed through, the group discharged a fire extinguisher at his vehicle.

Other officers responded and found a group of 25 to 30 gathered in the intersection, setting up fencing and putting up caution tape. They painted “F— The Pigs” on the street and on a nearby building.

The rioters also placed makeshift tire-flattening spikes in the intersection, then began walking east on Howell toward the East Precinct.

As they walked, the group left behind cans of paint, paint rollers, flags and makeshift paint “bombs” fashioned from light bulbs.

By 9:20 p.m., the same group of about 30 gathered at East Pine Street and Boylston Avenue, blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

As the gathering became more rowdy, rioters displayed signs encouraging violence against police.

One marcher tossed a large firework at a patrol car, which bounced off and detonated. The explosion could have injured anyone nearby, police said.

Officers continued to follow the group to Broadway Avenue and then northbound.

Rioters began pushing trashcans and newspaper boxes into the street as others lit flares and threw them at monitoring patrol cars.

Fire extinguishers were sprayed into traffic as rioters attempted to smash windows at a bank in the 300 block of Broadway Avenue East.

Parked cars were attacked and at least one was visibly damaged. The mayhem created significant traffic delays and congestion, as well as threatening traffic and pedestrian safety, police said.

Most of the rioters were dressed in black, and many wore bandanas or masks to conceal their identities.

The rioters began to disperse at East Republican Street, many running to the east.

Officers captured three suspects near the 500 block of Federal Avenue East. The suspects were booked into King County Jail for investigation of rioting, pedestrian interference and obstructing.

Several businesses were damaged during the riot, including a bank, a local newspaper company, a local print publication and Sound Transit.

Local protesters, including some self-described anarchists, have become more active since woodcarver John T. Williams was gunned down by former Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk last August near the intersection of Boren Avenue and Howell Street.

Birk said he shot Williams after he refused to obey his commands to put down a knife. But dashcam footage of the incident showed Birk gave Williams just seven seconds to react before opening fire.

During an inquest into Williams’ death, Birk claimed Williams lunged at him with the knife. But a photo taken at the scene showed Williams’ carving knife was in the closed position.

The Firearms Review Board found the fatal shooting was not justified.

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