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Schemer tries to profit from lost cell phone, ends up in jail on extortion charge

Here's an odd one from today's Boise Police crime report: A 27-year-old Boise man is facing extortion charges after he found a woman's lost phone over the weekend, then allegedly contacted her demanding payment or he'd sell it. The victim had lost her phone downtown on Saturday night; suspect Joshua G. Escoto allegedly contacted her last night about 11:30. The Boise Police reported, "After a detailed investigation, the suspect was arrested when the victim arranged to meet him to make the exchange." In addition to theft by extortion, a felony, Escoto was booked into the Ada County Jail on an additional charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a license.

Alleged robber is 4-foot-8, 85 pounds

A suspect has been arrested in a June 6 armed home-invasion robbery in northeast Spokane.

Brettly E. Sanderson, who turned 16 last week, was charged as an adult with seven counts of first-degree robbery, but the charges were refiled in juvenile court when prosecutors realized he was 15 at the time of the crime.

The victims at the home in the 2900 block of North Hogan Street say they recognized Sanderson when he and two other men, one of whom had a sawed-off shotgun, forced their way into the apartment demanding drugs and money, according to court documents.

One of the victims was struck in the head with the butt of the shotgun, police say. Seven people were in the apartment at the time; stolen items included a 1997 Honda Civic, $50, two laptops, a PlayStation 3 and stereo speakers. Police found the Civic stripped of its tires and wheels near West Gordon Avenue and West Glass Avenue later that night.

Sanderson is 4-foot-8 and weighs 85 pounds, according to court documents.

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla filed charges against Sanderson on Monday. Spokane police searched his home in the 2600 block of East Sinto Avenue about 3 a.m. Thursday. The SWAT team was presence, but the occupants responded to a knock and no force was used to enter the home.

Bevy of drugs found in felon’s truck

A longtime Spokane felon who fought with police in a Browne's Addition grocery store parking lot last week had about three ounces of heroin in his vehicle, police said today.

Stephen Patrick Link, 46, pleaded not guilty today in Spokane County Superior Court to possession of methamphetamine, attempt to elude a police vehicle and two counts of third-degree assault for the May 21 incident with Sgt. Kurt Vigesaa and Officer Ron Van Tassel at Rosauers, 1800 W. 2nd Ave.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Link with six additional drug felonies after a search of his Ford Ranger on Friday revealed the heroin, valued at $2,400, marijuana packaged for sale and four prescription drugs packaged for sale, as well as a scale and baggies.

Police also found two syringes loaded with suspected heroin.  Those drugs were found in addition to methamphetamine, more than $7,000 and 35 suspected stolen gift cards that were found on the ground next to Link the night of his arrest.

Police began pursuing Link after a homeowner in the 4800 block of North Oak Street reported a man sitting in a truck in front of his home smoking drugs. Vigesaa attempted to stop Link near North Ash Street and West Grace Avenue, but he fled and crossed the Maple Street Bridge into downtown.

Police used a PIT maneuver to stop the truck, and Link exited the vehicle and fought with Vigesaa, who said he nearly lost consciousness and didn't know what hit him after he was attacked by Link, according to court documents. Vigesaa was treated at a hospital for cut eye and a broken blood vessel. (Police released a photo of the injury today)

Link also kicked and punched Van Tassel and broke his watch, police say Backup officers arrived and Link was shocked with a Taser and taken to the ground before being handcuffed. (View a photo from the scene here.) He was taken to a hospital before being booked into jail.

Link is well known to drug detectives "who have worked previous cases involving him," according to a news release by police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Vigesaa and Van Tassel have returned to work, DeRuwe said.

"This situation illustrates not only the dangers of police work, but how officers work together to effectively apprehend and remove a criminal suspect from the streets of Spokane."

Link remains in the Spokane County Jail.

13-time felon accused of gun burglary

A burglary suspect accused of stealing a truck and gun from a northwest Spokane home is a repeat offender with a 19-year history of property crimes, police say.

 Grant Douglas Brough, 35, was one of two men who ran from a traffic stop near East Sanson Avenue and North Mayfair Street late Tuesday, according to Spokane police. Police dog Leonidas tracked Brough to a garage in the 100 block of East Everett Avenue.

Read the rest of my story here.

Suspect’s body found; questions remain

The body of Dustin Gilman is placed in the medical examiner’s van after it was discovered on property along the Little Spokane River on Monday. (Colin Mulvany/SRphoto)

A tracked cell phone signal led police Monday to the body of the suspected killer they’d been hunting ever since a mother and her two children were found dead Friday in their North Spokane home.

A police dog found 22-year-old Dustin William Gilman’s body in on a forested hillside near the Wandermere area, just north of Spokane city limits, about 10 a.m.

Gilman’s father and others had speculated earlier that he’d shot himself after fleeing the murder scene but Spokane police did not disclose how the suspect died or whether firearms were found near the body.

Gilman is the only suspect in the murders of Tracy Ann Ader, 32, and her sons, 8-year-old Kadin, and 10-year-old Damien, who were found dead in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Killer still sought in triple homicide

A 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is towed Sunday after being taken from the Aders’ home and left parked near Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

UPDATE: Gilman's body has been found. Read more here and look for updates.

Police continue to search for a man suspected of killing two young boys and their mother Friday in Spokane.

Dustin William Gilman, 22, (pictured) is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him or has information on where he may be should call 911.

Gilman has been wanted since Friday, when the bodies of Tracy Ader, 32, and her 8- and 10-year-old boys were found in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Police believe he may be heavily armed with weapons stolen from the home, including a bullet-proof vest.

Police believe Gilman murdered the three while Ader's husband, Nick Ader, was in the hospital. 

Gilman has been staying with the Aders for the last few months. Tracy Ader's mother and stepfather said he spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them at their Spokane Valley and was great with the boys.

Ader and her sons are pictured left in a photo provided by her family.

Ader worked at Pitney Bowes, a business service company, with Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, who was found shot to death in her north Spokane home on New Year’s Day. No one has been arrested in that case, but sheriff’s detectives say they have a person of interest.

“Tracy was having a hard time dealing with that because (Schmidt) was a direct coworker of hers,” said Steve Ponsness, Ader's stepfather.

Ponsnesskept a gun at his side Saturday as police searched for Gilman, who is believed to have stolen Ader's 2007 Nissan Pathfinder.

A citizen spotted the Pathfinder near West Wellesley Avenue and North Monroe Street Sunday and notified police, who are searching it for evidence.

Gilman is a convicted felon who was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. He has an extensive juvenile criminal history, including convictions in Kootenai County in 2005 for stolen property and car theft. Court records show he was arrested for assault when he was 10.

See a picture story about the case here.

Man charged after spray-painting ‘I’m not a terrorist’ on fed courthouse

A 42-year-old homeless man has been charged with a federal crime of willful injury to government property, after he allegedly spray-painted "FU 1867 I'm not a terrorist" on windows on four different sides of the James A. McClure Federal Building and Courthouse in Boise on Jan. 2. Charles Arthur Stark, 42, was charged with a Class A misdemeanor and could face up to a year in prison, $100,000 in fines and restitution for the damage; his actions were captured on video and posted on YouTube. You can read the U.S. Attorney's full announcement here.

Spokane Falls Family Clinic Pharmacy robbed at gunpoint

Good morning, Netizens…


Egods, some malfunctioning member of society robbed my favorite clinic pharmacy at gunpoint yesterday. Spokane Falls Family Clinic's pharmacy is in the basement of the building at 120 West Mission. Despite the fact that police arrived within minutes of the robbery, the robber(s) got away, perhaps in a Volvo ostensibly with a white trunk.


They didn't get any Oxycontin, though. There is a big sign over the counter that states the clinic no longer stocks the drug, a favorite of street merchants everywhere. However the chances are fair the culprits probably did not or could not read the sign.


For nearly a decade I have been purchasing all my prescriptions from Spokane Falls. They are cheaper by far over the “big box stores” and their personnel are truly caring and friendly. For the last few years, I have been playing a light-hearted game with them I call “The Word of the Day” each time I drop by to fill a prescription. The game goes thus: I give them a word, typically one of the most misspelled words, and if they spell it correctly, they win a free latte of their choice. Just so my record is safe, in over ten years I have paid for five coffee drinks.


Obviously the robbers weren't into playing “The Word of the Day”. They were more interested in getting high. Maybe if the police get lucky and capture these dangerous fools, they will have lots of disposable time to improve their personal vocabularies.



Reward targets suspects in hotel murder

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of six men charged for their alleged roles in a fatal shooting involving two aspiring rappers at a Spokane hotel.

Pictured above, top to bottom, left to right, are Jermaine S. Bedford, 22; Kalen J. Bedford, 21; Rashad F. Toussiant, 25; Roderick D. Shanks, 21; Stafone N. “Stix” Fuentes, 27; and Tyrone J. Carell, 23.

All are wanted for second-degree assault except Fuentes, who is charged with first-degree assault.

The charges stem from a Nov. 27 fight at the Quality Inn, 110 E. Third Ave., that led to the shooting death of Jose J. “Junior” Solis, 21, of Moses Lake. 

Aaron A. Maxwell, 23, Anthony L. Fuentes, 29, and Michael J. Charles, 34; already have been arrested. John A. “Lil Danger” Castro, 27, (pictured) was arrested just after the homicide and remains in jail on a second-degree murder charge. Castro faces life in prison if convicted under the state's three-strikes law because of his criminal history.

Police believe Castro shot Solis to death in a wild fight that began when the Spokane group tried to attend a party at the hotel hosted by the Moses Lake group, who were in town for a rap concert at Ichiban Sushi Lounge at which Solis performed.

The Spokane men were kicked out, and Jermaine Bedford insulted a female friend of the Moses Lake men, Jazman Quarles, and challenged her boyfriend to a fight, police say. A wild fight ensued, and Quarles and a friend hid in a room and called their friends to help her boyfriend, who was being assaulted in the hallway. They arrived, including Solis, and the fight continued, ending in the gunshot that killed Solis. Witnesses identified the gunman as Castro.

Hotel surveillance video does not show the shooting but does show the participants running to and from the confrontation, according to court documents prepared by Spokane police major crimes Detective Kip Hollenbeck.

Police believe the Moses Lake men only acted in self defense during the fight.

Fuentes, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of West Shannon Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and escape. He was jailed briefly last summer after news of his uncle’s murder outside a rap concert in Montana in June revealed to his probation officer that he’d left the state without permission.

Jermaine Bedford, 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 300 block of East Queen Avenue. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and riot.

Kalen Bedford, 6-foot-4 and 160 pounds, last gave an address in the 1300 block of West Qualchan Drive. His criminal history includes a conviction for delivery of a controlled substance.

Carell, 5-foot-8 and 130 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of East Wedgewood Avenue. His criminal history includes conviction for second-degree assault. He was arrested in November after police investigating a 2007 homicide saw marijuana in his apartment.

Shanks, 6-foot-2 and 155 pounds, last gave an address in the 200 block of South Wall Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault and second-degree robbery.

Toussiant, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, last gave an address in the 3000 block of North Lacey Street. His criminal history includes convictions for second-degree assault, malicious harassment and bail jumping. A conviction for intimidating a public servant was dismissed upon appeal.

Anyone with information on the current location of any of the six men is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

‘Aggravated battery with a frying pan’

It's not even a full moon, but the Boise Police is reporting, among its usual list of overnight incidents, a case of "aggravated battery with a frying pan." According to the police report, Daniel J. Lovely, 24, was arrested early this morning after police responded to a report of a fight between roommates, in which the victim told them the suspect "used a cast iron frying pan to strike him more than once in the head, breaking the handle of the frying pan." The victim was taken to the hospital with a head laceration. Lovely was booked into jail, and "the frying pan was recovered from the home."

Today’s highlights

“I like to see them all go down,” Spokane Valley Police Lt. Matt Lyons said, concerning the Spokane Valley crime rate. SR photo/J. Bart Rayniak

I have to say I sure could get used to this nice, sunny weather. But before we start our day it's time to check out the highlights from today's Valley Voice. The 2010 crime rates are in for Spokane Valley and the numbers show that violent crimes are down while property crimes are up. The city is following the same trends as Spokane County and other cities in the county. The Spokane Valley Police Department is also facing a growing population and increased calls for service with the same number of officers it had in 2003.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended a recent West Valley School District meeting that was all about the budget. People are being asked to let the district know what programs can be cut and which should be saved. Some of the things on the chopping block are the golf program, C squad sports teams and intramural sports. Another public meeting is scheduled for Monday.

The Newman Lake Fire District is moving closer to building a new Station 1 at land the district owns at Starr and Moffat roads. The old Station 1 is too small and doesn't meet current regulations. A public meeting was held this week to get input and more meetings are planned. The commissioners must decided whether to ask voters for a construction bond.

Spokane Valley City Council woman Brenda Grassel recently sent a letter to Spokane Home Builders Association members asking for input on the city's permitting process, but she did it a little differently than usual. The letter invited people to send in their comments to SHBA executive officer Joel White so he could forward them as anonymous.

Coming Thursday

It has been a fairly quiet day today at Valley Voice headquarters, but we'll have a bunch of stuff for you in the paper tomorrow. I headed out to Newman Lake this week for a special meeting to get public input on a planned new fire station. The Newman Lake Fire District commissioners are considering asking voters for a small construction bond to replace the aging, too-small Station 1.

Reporter Lisa Leinberger attended a special West Valley School District meeting this week. The district is trying to get input from the public on which programs it can cut and which it should save. I checked in with the Spokane Valley Police Department on the most recent crime numbers recently. Some types of crimes are up; some are down.

So check in tomorrow and check out the stories I've mentioned as well as a few more.

U.S. crime rates hits lowest level in 40 years - and what that means for sustainability

Call it good news for sustainability: For people to be attracted to city life - which is less energy intensive - they have to feel safe. It is a burden for some, even though it's a way to reduce your carbon burden. So the news that crime in cities has dropped to the lowest levels in 40 years is a statistic to get excited about.

At the Atlantic Monthly, economist Richard Florida writes: Big cities posted bigger declines than the national average for property crime, which fell 3.9 percent in cities with populations of a million or more compared to 2.8 percent nationally … Even more striking is the trend in violent crime, which is also down substantially in big cities. These crimes … fell 5.1 percent in big cities with more than 1 million people. That's better than the decline for the smallest communities, with populations under 10,000 (4.3 percent).

But why? In neighborhoods where we want denser communities that are less auto-centric, how can this be duplicated?

Violence prevention summit Tuesday

Mayor Mary Verner, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich are hosting a community conversation on how to prevent violence tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. in the city council chambers, lower level at City Hall. The meeting will be moderated by Steve Becker, Eastern Washington representative for Governor Chris Gregoire's office. The audience may ask questions and share opinions on crime and violence related issues.
The event is co-sponsored by a long list of community organizations and expected to draw business and community leaders from all over town - this blog is going.


The meeting is wrapping up and Mayor Verner summarized it this way: “Rest assured that we recognize and value this little corner of the city. What I’m hearing is for you to report, report, report and then have faith that we are listening. It’s not CSI, it’s honest to goodness police work so it’s going to take a little while. Be patient. And report it again if it happens again.”

The Spokane Police Department’s Aim Report - which shows what the police department is aiming at - are available from the police department’s website www.spokanepolice.org

Business owners aim to protect reputation

Several business owners are upset with how and when media refer to Hillyard. One person said that when something good happens in Hillyard, the area is referred to as “Northeast Hillyard” - but when something bad happens, like the recent shooting at the Special K Bar (on Garland and Market) it’s referred to as “Hillyard” - an argument could be made that the Special K is not in Hillyard.

Part of the business owners’ frustration is that they say they have worked hard on changing Hillyard’s reputation and as long as crime continues to be a problem, they say, it is really hard to keep the good PR going.

Suggestions toward solving the problem

Major Stevens explains that SPD has a ‘repeat offender program’ and for the people who end up on that list “It’s kind’a like being on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. We notice that these people pop up and pop up and pop up - and we make an effort to catch those people.” You want to catch them, you don’t want to move them to another spot (this is repeated by several SPD officers).

Someone suggests a citizens police academy similar to one in King County. The Spokane citizens police academy was eliminated due to budget cuts about two years ago. The academy in Spokane was more informational, where the one in King County gives citizens an opportunity to ride along with officers and be more hands on.

Neighborhood “patrols”

One business owner talks about confronting two intruders on his property, cutting up steel and trying to steal his “stuff” out of a yard. This happened last night. He says he “kicked the guy’s” behind, because he ended up in a wrestling match with the intruders. He says he has a right to bear arms and confront people on his property, but he is tired of getting ripped off. (This business owner did eventually call 911 and file a report).

SPD response: a burglary in progress is “nirvana” for cops because they want to come and help people - so call in and report it to 911 on the spot. It’s important to call in and let police come out and do their job. If a burglar gets run off someone’s property, the burglar is likely to go somewhere else and break in again.

Mayor Verner: what I’m hearing is that people don’t report incidents because they don’t think anything is going to happen? (correct, business owners say) Verner explains that she gets “Aim Reports” from the SPD that show what the police department is focusing on. “We need a feedback loop, we need to find a way to get that information back to the community, so people don’t think their reports go into a black hole.”

Crime prevention measures

They are labor intensive, someone has to watch them all the time. The business owners in Hillyard have purchased ISP addresses so their camera feeds can be viewed at the COPS shop.

SPD needs license plate numbers, times and dates. Descriptions of the people who show up frequently, but be careful while you are doing it so you don’t get into a confrontation with drug dealers or other criminals.
Report incidents even if you don’t think police is going to come out - it helps the police department build a pattern of activity, if there is one. Some of this information may be useful in court.

COPS suggests Business Watch - a plan like Block Watch, just for businesses. This effort has been very successful in the International District on East Sprague.

Note: These are essentially my notes, the way I take them at any meeting I cover - experimenting with live blogging.

SPD explains what it’s doing already

SPD: patrol officers in general run from disaster to disaster. The drug unit is not well equipped to deal with drug problems like the one in Hillyard. SPD says that you can’t just throw a couple of officers out there in plain clothes and take care of it. Some smaller drug units will be formed in January.

SPD Major Stevens: one thing we are trying to do is coodinate with the community and the police department - sometimes we don’t communicate real well and coordinate our efforts - we are working on that. He says they are going to sustain the drug effort. One thing people in Hillyard can do is notice and report drug houses - it will help SPD pick people up. “The more information we have the better we can respond,” Stevens said.
He adds that they have a high level of technology that can help them sustain what they are doing - they want to keep the pressure up - especially with people that are identified as repeat offenders. “We are trying to get the judges on board to boost their bail up, so they don’t get out of jail so easily,” Stevens said.

What’s the problem?

Marv Peterson: “There is so much drug dealing and vandalism going on here. I was broken into. We know the people who did it but we can’t do anything about it.”

Richard Burris: “We sometimes go out at night to keep an eye on things. There was a lot of traffic and people were getting in your face. We are not asking for more protection, we know that you don’t have enough resources. What we are asking for is more undercover patrols - everybody can recognize a black and white patrol car from a mile away. It doesn’t work.” The community groups are hoping that the SPD will be able to switch some resources to undercover patrols instead of regular street patrols.

Luke Tolley: “The response to the letter we sent has been awesome. Where we are at now is how do we continue on and work with the city.”


It’s a who’s who in Hillyard right now

In response to a letter sent to City Hall and the Spokane Police Department in November, there’s a community meeting going on right now at the Outlaw Cafe on Market Street. About 30 people are here - including council member Amber Waldreff, Mayor Mary Verner and many representatives from the Spokane Police Department.

Apologies for typos in the following posts - it’s the first time I’m doing live blogging - fun, yet demanding!

SPD update on crime prevention

From Greater Hillyard Business Association’s Luke Tolley:
“I just got a call from SPD’s Sgt. Tom Hendren, the officer who met with GHBA to discuss crime activity in downtown Hillyard.
He let me know that last night they served warrants on two houses/apartments on Olympic, one just east of Haven and one just west of Haven.  They arrested 11 people and will be working on an eviction at apartment and abatement at the house.  He believes this will help cut down a lot of our crime activity, but assured me that Det. Bowman and their Tech are still working with business owners to put up additional surveillance on building around the neighborhood in the next week or two.
Needless to say, I think our letter was very effective.  Sgt. Hendren would welcome any comments or feedback if you want to give him a call at 363-8224.”

Early morning robbery

From the Spokane Police Department: “Early Friday morning, at about 12:45 AM, a male walked into the Qwik Stop at Wellesley/Market, wearing a scarf pulled up over his face.  He displayed a handgun and demanded money from the clerk before leaving the store.  Spokane Police immediately responded to the scene but were unable to locate the suspect in the area.”
Here’s a link to the entire report.

If you know anything about this, please call Crime Check at 456-2233.

Girls day out and the Mayor is coming

Girls Day Out was on the top of the agenda today at the Historic Hillyard Merchants’ meeting. The annual shopping event is Saturday and it takes place in Hillyard, Garland, North Monroe and on East Sprague (the International District). Go to the Girls Day Out website for more information and read the story in your Voice section Thursday.
The letter to the city and police department asking for more police protection was well received. Mayor Mary Verner and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick along with city staff and city council members will be at a public meeting at the Outlaw Cafe on Dec. 15 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The meeting is open and intended as a forum for business owners and neighbors.

Look out for two suspected drug cars

Neighbors noticed a suspected drug deal in the area of South Hatch and Harrison on Monday. The cars involved are a burgundy, four-door Lexus with WA plates 565XOG and a Chevrolet Surburban with WA plates 426UWM. If you see the cars in the area or know where they belong, please call crime check at 456-2233

Girls Day Out planning meeting tonight

There’s a Girls Day Out planning meeting tonight at the Outlaw Cafe at 6 p.m. Girls Day Out is an annual neighborhood shopping event and this year it takes place in Hillyard, the Garland District, Monroe Business District and the International District (East Sprague) on Nov. 13 - anyone interested in helping out is welcome at the meeting Thursday evening.

Moving right along to the Merchants’ meeting Wednesday morning: The Hillyard Howl was deemed successful though some conversation was had as to whether it serves the group’s purpose of bringing shoppers into Hillyard and keeping them there for a while. The bake sale made $80.
The next big event is Girls Day Out (see above) followed by the Hillyard North Pole and Santa’s arrival. Santa’s chair is in the shop, getting painted, but will be ready for his arrival.
Merchant Committee members pay for the power and water cost associated with planters and holiday lights along Market Street. It’s by donation and the association is figuring out a way to make that system more fair, by suggesting a donation that matches the individual merchant’s storefront size. Paying the fee is not mandatory, but the group hopes that everyone will pay their fair share to cover the water and power bills.
And the Greater Hillyard Business Association has been meeting with businesses and neighbors in West Central who are working to get their business association back on track.
And finally, before mentioned letter to Mayor Mary Verner, the city council and the Spokane Police Department asking for more frequent and under-cover drug patrols in Hillyard was signed by most of the merchants at the meeting. It will be delivered to the city as soon as possible.

Arrest late Thursday

Colleague Meghann Cuniff covered an arrest on South Ivory Thursday night. Cuniff writes: “Members of the Spokane gang unit saw Brian J. King, 39, while patrolling the area of East 7th Street and South Perry Avenue, but King fled.
Then at 11:05 p.m., residents in the 600 block of South Ivory Street, just east of the vacant lot, reported a white man in a dark-colored sweatshirt trying to break into the home.
Spokane police Officer Shawn Kendall and his K-9, Stryder, found King hiding near South Ivory Street and East Newark Avenue.”

Here’s a link to the full story and a picture of King.

Watch out for scammer around South Perry

A nicely dressed young African-American man has been going house to house with well rehearsed stories of needing money immediately to attend his grandmother’s funeral. The story line is some version of “he’s worked so hard he only needs $14 to pay for his AMTRAC ticket,” his bus leaves in two hours and he only needs a few more dollars for the fare but has run out of time to work for it. He’s really doing this for his mother so she doesn’t have to go alone; he works at McDonald’s and has time off to go but can’t quite afford the ticket.

This morning’s Historic Hillyard Merchant Committee meeting

Here are some highlights from this morning’s meeting:
The committee meets every Wednesday morning at 8:30 at the Outlaw Cafe, meetings are open to anybody interested. There were about 20 people at this morning’s meeting.
Preparation for the Hillyard Howl – cleanup begins on Friday to get the building ready for next weekend. If anyone is interested in helping out, extra hands are always welcome.
(The location of the Hillyard Northpole is uncertain this year as the building it’s usually in may be rented out – stay tuned for more information.)
Luke Tolley, chair of the Hillyard Neighborhood Council, had an update on Girls Day Out which is coming to Hillyard on Nov. 13. Part of Girls Day Out is ‘goodie bags’ provided by local merchants and letters are going out right now for businesses that would like to participate. The next planning meeting is Thursday Oct. 21 at the Outlaw Cafe at 6 p.m.

In terms of crime prevention, the neighborhood has been trying to work out a video surveillance deal with the city and the police department. Some businesses owners already have video surveillance that they watch via internet from their homes – it’s been a problem that the video cameras get stolen. Someone suggested putting up dummy cameras as a deterrent, but everyone agreed on approaching the city and the police department with a letter.

The HHMC is looking for input into what people would like on the new website. A decision was made to not have a public forum on the site out of concern that it would have to closely monitored and moderated.
There was a short discussion about whether to continue to produce a newsletter on paper. It was named ‘The Hillyard Voice’ and will be published twice a month.
Richard Burris, of Hillyard Communtiy Futures, is proposing a joint letter to the city and the police department asking for undercover policing to increase in the area – there is drug dealing going on every night, he says. “I’m not gonna sit back for 10 years and see all what we’ve done to make this place better go to hell again,” said Burris. He volunteered to write the letter.
Business owners say that between midnight and 3 a.m. crime is rampant in the neighborhood - burglaries, vandalism, drug dealing, it’s all over the map.