The safety and security of Sound Transit’s riders is our number one priority. We make major investments in maintaining a strong security presence on our system. But this weekend’s shooting at Westlake Station and assault on board a Link train point out all too alarmingly that the problem of violence on our streets can spread onto our system.
In light of the weekend’s incidents, Sound Transit has added extra security officers at downtown Seattle light rail stations, and our law enforcement officers from the Sound Transit Division of the King County Sheriff's Office are patrolling the tunnel on a continual basis and in coordination with and support of the Seattle Police Department.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on Friday an argument between two groups of individuals began on the street and escalated after one group entered Westlake Station. One victim died and another remains in serious condition at Harborview.
On Saturday evening a male passenger who was riding Link to the Husky football game was assaulted without provocation by a man who pretended to hug him but then stabbed him in the side with a folding knife. A Sound Transit security officer who was on board the train followed the suspect until he was arrested by police. Fortunately, our rider’s injuries were described as minor.
With both these incidents we are grateful for the rapid law enforcement responses and proud of the commitment and professionalism demonstrated by our security officers. On Saturday our officer played a critical role in the arrest. On Friday one of our officers witnessed the shooting at Westlake Station and acted immediately to notify authorities, evacuate the station and help aid the victims, joined by another officer stationed at Westlake who hurried to the platform.
Friday’s shooting came only one day after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine, both Sound Transit Board members, held a news conference about joint actions to address problems with crime on downtown Seattle’s streets. We applaud their increased efforts, in particular with regard to repeat offenders and people dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. While Sound Transit’s police and security officers work to keep our system safe, we will also support our partner jurisdictions however we possibly can.
One act of violence is too many, but fortunately the weekend’s incidents are more exceptions than common occurrences. Link serves 25 million annual riders while averaging fewer than 10 robberies or aggravated assaults.
Sound Transit is deeply committed to continue investing in high-quality security and law enforcement programs to ensure our riders are safe and feel safe.