Woman Shot After She Burglarizes Apartment, Frees Dogs Who Attack Residents

A woman in First Hill was shot Friday night after she burglarized an apartment and released three pit bulls who then attacked two building residents.

At about 10:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to investigate an animal bite at an apartment building in the 1000 block of University Street. The victim reported she heard dogs barking downstairs so she went to make sure it wasn’t a friend’s dog who lives on a lower level. When she got off the elevator, she was attacked by three pit bulls and was bit on her arm.

By the time officers arrived, the dogs were back in their apartment. Officers went to the unit and attempted to speak with the owner, but got no answer.

While police were at the apartment complex, the building manager called 911 to request officers contact a long-term female guest in the unit next to the dogs’ apartment, who had been consistently causing disturbances in the building, and had been seen regularly trying other units’ door handles. Officers attempted to contact the woman in the referenced apartment, but got no answer there either.

Officers departed the complex. However, within minutes they were on their way back to the same location for reports that a woman had been shot.

Arriving officers found a 37-year-old woman outside the building with a gunshot wound near her collarbone. Police began providing first aid to the woman and then transferred care to Seattle Fire Department medics, who transported her to Harborview Medical Center.

The building manager was one of several 911 callers who reported the shooting, and he told investigating officers the following: after police left the apartment building, the dogs were soon out in the building’s courtyard again. The manager tried to go talk to their owner, but was also attacked by the dogs. He managed to get the dogs to go outside the courtyard to the street and closed the door behind them, locking them out. The female guest the manager had called about earlier was also in the courtyard and she asked him to let the dogs back in. He said no, so she went outside with the dogs.

The manager headed back to his unit, but soon heard screaming from outside. A couple who had been walking their small dog were now holding it above their heads as the pit bulls jumped on them and tried to attack it. The manager said he took his gun from his apartment and went outside and fired a warning shot into the air. When the dogs did not stop, he fired two more shots toward the dogs, one of which struck the female guest who had accompanied the dogs outside.

Police seized the gun as evidence and Seattle Fire Department medics treated the manager’s dog bite injuries. Officers arrested the 50-year-old man for reckless endangerment, and later released him from the East Precinct.

Meanwhile, police at the scene interviewed the dog owner, who had returned to his apartment after receiving an earlier text from the building manager that his dogs were loose. The dog owner showed officers the three crates he keeps his dogs in when he is away from the apartment, and stated it was not possible for them all to escape their crates and the apartment without being let out by a person.

The owner suspected the woman staying in the apartment next door had let the dogs out because she had tried his apartment door handle in the past, and likes to play with the dogs when he takes them out. He also noted that several expensive pairs of his shoes were missing, along with several hundred dollars in cash.

Officers went to the hospital to interview the woman who had been shot. She told officers she had entered the dogs’ apartment to let them out, and had stolen several items. Police determined there was probable cause to arrest the woman for residential burglary. However, due to her need for significant medical treatment, she remained at HMC and officers will request the charges.