A police staffing crisis in Seattle coupled with rising crime has hit a fever pitch, culminated by the release of surveillance footage of a woman getting hit by a baseball bat in a random attack on the street.
The suspect in the bat incident, identified as Wantez Tulloss, was reportedly carrying the baseball bat in one hand and two bags in another when he spotted the female victim at about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31. He put the bags down before the attack so he could swing with both hands, prosecutors said. He did not know the victim.
Tulloss, who has been charged with assault, is a homeless man currently living in transitional housing with “few rules,” according to The Jason Rantz Show.
The victim sustained skull fractures and is believed to have suffered a concussion, according to FOX 13 News Seattle.
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Witnesses told investigators the man ran away with the bat in his hand.
“The defendant is a significant danger to the community and very likely to commit a violent offense if he remains out of custody,” the King County prosecuting attorney said in probable cause documents.
Data from the Seattle Police Department’s year-end crime report shows the city saw a violent 2021. There were spikes in the number of aggravated assaults and robberies last year, which were mostly responsible for the 20% increase in violent crimes across the city.
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“That report, released late last week, said the number of aggravated assaults that occurred in Seattle last year — 3,925 — is the most the city has seen in 10 years. It also represents a 24% increase over 2020 totals,” SeattlePI reported.
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As the city copes with the crimes, the Seattle Police Department is still below the staffing levels it wants. Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz said last year the police force needed a minimum 1,400 officers, but there is now fewer than 1,000 deployable officers, KOMO reports. The department is only budgeted for 1,350 officers.
“With all respects to our mayor, the problem is way bigger than I think a lot of people imagined,” said Victoria Beach, a member of the African American Community Advisory Council to Seattle Police, according to KOMO News. “How are you going to implement all of these things when you don’t have a department?”