News

Arrests imminent in interrupted home burglary, shooting, police say

By Wendy Giroux

Police believe they know the identities of the two men who shot at a woman after she interrupted them burglarizing her home Tuesday morning.

The woman was not injured; the suspects escaped and are being sought by police. The incident is completely unrelated to the theft of a police car and shooting earlier Tuesday.

At about 11 a.m. Tuesday, the burglary victim arrived at her home in the 3000 block of 84th Avenue S.E. After walking into the home through the garage, she saw two men inside and ran back out to her car to leave, Sgt. Lance Davenport said.

By the time she pulled onto 84th, she saw one of the men getting into a white Ford Expedition parked there.

The woman called police on her cell phone, and one of the suspects jumped onto the back of the Expedition to block the license plate with his feet, according to a police report.

After traveling a short distance, the suspects pulled over. The driver jumped out, ran around to the passenger side, pulled out a rifle and fired several rounds at the victim.

The shots missed the woman, and the suspects fled the scene. Tuesday evening, a Mercer Island detective spotted the vehicle in West Seattle; Seattle police pulled over the Expedition, along with a Chevrolet Tahoe that appeared to be traveling with it.

The two women driving the vehicles were the only occupants. Mercer Island detectives questioned them for several hours, but they are not considered suspects in the burglaries.

Just before midnight, detectives searched an apartment connected to one of the suspects. Police are not releasing what evidence, if any, they recovered from that location.

The Expedition is in custody, but Officer Jennifer Franklin said Friday she was unsure whether it had been searched yet.

Police believe the suspects also burglarized the home across the street, where suspects apparently helped themselves to Coca-colas and Klondike ice cream bars from the victims' garage refrigerator, a report said. Also stolen from that home were a DVD player, a gold necklace and ring, two watches and a bracelet.

At the home of the woman who walked in on the burglars, suspects stole an electric razor, a digital camera, video camera and a Dell laptop.

One of the victim's neighbors said she couldn't believe this sort of crime happened in the middle of the day.

``We always wait for our kids at the bus stop together, so this is scary,'' said the woman, Anita, who asked that only her first name be used. ``I don't know why she was so bold to chase them. They missed, fortunately.''

The suspect vehicle is registered to an address in the Lakes neighborhood at the south end of the Island, but it had just been sold, police say.

Burglaries reported to Mercer Island police increased last year about 80 percent, from 57 in 2003 to 103 in 2004, according to crime statistics.

While the woman in this case had locked her home, many Island residents continue to leave their homes and cars unsecured despite repeated public education efforts by the city. Police say that locking homes and cars and securing valuables is the biggest way residents can help them keep the Island safe. They also ask that citizens call police as soon as they see anything suspicious.

``Crime does occur here and bad things can occur here,'' Director of Public Safety Ron Elsoe said during Monday's City Council meeting. ``That's our message, is that we're not immune.''

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