Multiple Federal Way stores hit by looters

Rapid response by police resulted in minimal loss for businesses on Sunday night, police chief says.

In a string of crimes targeting King County cities along the I-5 corridor, looting attempts were made at four Federal Way businesses on Sunday night.

Around 10 p.m. May 31, Federal Way police received numerous calls about the looting of local businesses in downtown Federal Way, according to an internal email sent at 1:48 a.m. Monday by Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang.

Throughout the day on Sunday, demonstrations were held in many cities to protest the killing of George Floyd. Looters took advantage of the situation to damage property and steal merchandise. Cities such as Seattle, Bellevue and Tukwila were hit the hardest, Hwang said.

As the evening went on, looting sprees spread to other King County cities to include Federal Way, Hwang said.

So far, police say the Target store, Best Buy, Total Wine & More and the T-Mobile store have been hit with attempted looting, although the damage was minimal. These businesses are now temporarily closed.

Damage to the businesses is as follows, according to police:

  • Total Wine & More: An entry attempt was made without success at the store, 32095 Pacific Highway S., and no merchandise was stolen.
  • Best Buy: Suspects made entry by driving a car into the store’s entrance, 31601 Pacific Highway S., but suspects fled as the officers arrived in the area. No merchandise was stolen.
  • Target store: Suspects made entry at the store, 2201. S. Common. However responding officers recovered all of the merchandise and made an arrest.
  • T-Mobile: Located in Celebration Park Center, 32225 Pacific Highway S., Suite 202. Entry was made into this business, but police do not know at this time if anything was stolen.

“I am very pleased to report that the targeted businesses … had minimal loss or no loss of merchandise at all due to the rapid response by our patrol officers, interrupting and making an arrest in one incident,” Hwang said in the internal email.

“Considering how hard other communities have been hit by looters, I am very pleased by the performance of our supervisors and patrol officers to prevent burglars/looters from causing catastrophic damage to our business community,” he said.

Neither Federal Way police nor the mayor’s office issued any public statements about the looting during the night of the attempts.

After multiple inquiries from the Mirror, Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell issued a statement shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, June 1. The looting attempts were not in any way connected to Sunday afternoon’s peaceful protest along Pacific Highway South and South 320th Street, Ferrell told the Mirror.

The mayor’s statement reads:

“First, I want to say that I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers involved in that situation and every officer present for that crime should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Second, I am pleased that yesterday’s vigil organized by our neighbors, including faith and community leaders, was peaceful. We wanted our community to have the ability to share their feelings on recent events. The organizers did a great job coordinating the event. I celebrate our diversity and we need to take every opportunity to assure our citizens they will be honored and respected.

I also want to assure our residents that we will continue to take the necessary steps to make our community, businesses and neighbors safe from people who would exploit these events. These recent weeks and months have been trying times for our city, our state and our nation. Together, we will get through this!”

When questioned why he did not notify constituents of the evening’s events as they were occurring last night, or provide an update earlier this morning, Mayor Ferrell said he did not believe residents were in danger at any time.

“Issue a statement? To who? There was no reason for that,” he said during a phone interview with the Mirror on Monday morning. “… We are not going to put out a press release for four attempted lootings.”

Due to the fluidity of the incidents, Ferrell said it never crossed his mind to alert residents because they were not in danger and he did not want to provide false or incorrect information at the time.

He emphasized there was not “widespread looting” in the city last night, and that both police and city staff were entirely focused on handling the situation — not worried about notifying residents in the middle of the night.

In preparation for the protest, approximately 80 additional officers from surrounding agencies of the Valley Civil Disturbance Unit were on standby in the city, he said, but were released from duty after the peaceful protest dismantled without any issues.

In anticipation of looting crimes making a way down to Federal Way, the department had extra officers working Sunday night based on what was occurring in Seattle and Bellevue earlier in the day.

“Our command brought in an extra patrol squad on overtime (1 lieutenant and 7 officers), which made a significant difference in keeping our city better protected,” Hwang said in the email.

Mayor Ferrell said he told the chief “I don’t care about the overtime cost, [let’s] get more officers in.”

Ferrell also said implementing a city-wide curfew would have been an “empty gesture” and would serve no purpose. Later, he explained the current city code does not allow for the implementation of curfews and the Federal Way City Council will re-evaluate this code as soon as able possible.

Cmdr. Kurt Schwan said additional details about the department’s plans for increased protection in the city tonight will be released in the coming hours, but residents should expect additional patrols.

King County declares Proclamation of Emergency

To assist in responding to the violence and theft associated with some of the local protests, King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a King County Proclamation of Emergency on Sunday night.

The proclamation allows King County departments flexibility with contracting needs and obligations necessary to make emergency repairs and address other impacts associated with the civil emergency, according to a county news release. Most importantly for the residents and businesses served by the county, the proclamation expedites the process of obtaining resources, if needed.

The King County Office of Emergency Management activated the King County Emergency Operations Center on May 30 for a significant civil emergency caused by violence and theft during the time of public demonstrations in various communities of King County, including the cities of Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, and Tukwila.

The peaceful demonstrations by many have been accompanied by property damage and destruction by others; they have created hazardous conditions for persons assembled for peaceful protests; pose a risk to public property and facilities; and, further threaten public safety, property destruction, injury, and safe travel.

Best Buy, 31601 Pacific Highway S., is temporarily closed after a car ran into the store’s entrance on Sunday night when attempted looting took place in Federal Way after 10 p.m. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Best Buy, 31601 Pacific Highway S., is temporarily closed after a car ran into the store’s entrance on Sunday night when attempted looting took place in Federal Way after 10 p.m. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo