As I drove to the University District, I began to wonder how tonight would go. It wasn't very often that I go to a patrol without Phoenix Jones. But tonight was different, a few supers were going to start the patrol before Jones made his arrival.
Despite Huskies 38-21 victory over Washington State in the 2011 Apple cup that afternoon, the Ave was not as crazy as I had expected. In fact it was fairly vacant. Music could be heard pouring through open doors as a few college kids wearing their respective school colors, staggered up the dry sidewalks.
By the time I picked up Pitch Black and El Caballero at our meeting location, Ghost, Mantis, Midnight Jack and a newbie, Wolf, had already left for Pioneer Square. With the thud of my car doors closing, we sped off.
We arrived in Pioneer Square just after 1am.
Driving around the block a couple times, we counted about six police officers on foot and decided that this was not the place we needed to be.
Belltown was a different story. The feeling was hostile.
The usual people who run the notorious open air drug market in the area had no problem yelling at us as we walked by. As people began to make threats, the feeling got worse.
It wasn't long before met up with Phoenix Jones. Walking down 2nd Avenue we saw a man punch another man in the lower back and then take off. To see what transpired from here watch the video below.
As Phoenix, Mantis, El Caballero and I exited my car onto the yellow lit street, I loaded a new battery into my camera. The familiar electronic beep of the GoPro could be heard from the sidewalk as Phoenix began his normal routine, "This is Phoenix Jones, with Ryan McNamee, Mantisssss, El Caballero on patrol...". As his voice trails off, we set down the street to meet up with Midnight Jack and Ghost. Crossing the fairly empty street, our attention quickly turned to a man and woman arguing. As the man walked passed the short, heavyset and grungy looking woman he gave her a hard push. The sharp crack from a brisk punch to the mans face echoed around us. Phoenix, Mantis, Cab and I took off! The night had officially begun and it was all caught on camera.
It wasn't as cold or wet as the previous few patrols, but I still wouldn't consider it warm. Our small group split in two, Caballero and Mantis took the East side of the street following the woman and Phoenix and I took the West side closely behind the man. Carrying two overfilled bags closely to his puffy black jacket, he walked about a block north then looped back around. "Stay with the girl!" Phoenix yelled at at the other two. Phoenix's attention was on the man and giving a detailed description to the 911 operator.
As we looped back around by where we had just parked, Midnight Jack and Ghost could be seen walking in our direction. "Stop him!" I yelled, as our pace quickened.
Without too much hesitation, Midnight Jack and Ghost stopped the man at a bus stop where he set his bags down and began rummaging through his belonging to find tobacco and rolling papers. "If I am going to jail, I want to have a smoke," the man calmly said.
With Phoenix standing near by, a group of people began to form. "Where's the fight," one asked.
"Hey! Its Phoenix Jones!" another informed his group.
Out of the congregation stepped a nicely dressed man with a half burned cigarette clenched between his fingers. He walked right up to the man we had surrounded and began talking to him.
The police were closely behind. With the Police on scene, Phoenix and our group took off to find Pitch Black. As we left, the nicely dressed man, who goes by Q, informed us that he would be joining us for the night. Although I was skeptical about his intentions, I quickly learned that he was a major asset that night.
We met Pitch near our old meeting spot. Standing in the partly filled parking lot under a glowing neon sign, Phoenix addressed the group. He talked to everyone about equal escalation, weaponry, and how to handle situations like this in the future.
Our first official stop of the night would be Belltown. We checked out our usual spots before we looped down to under the Viaduct. It was a very quiet night.
Before long we found ourselves walking down 2nd Avenue towards Pike. Talking to a few of the regular people we come across during patrols, we noticed a girl who was having a hard time walking, even with assistance. Standing nearby watching her, we decided that we needed to make sure she was okay. The girls friends were reluctant to let us help. It took some persuasive talking from Q and Phoenix before the girls friends were okay with having masked men carry the extremely intoxicated girl back to her friends car.
"Its only a block this way," the guy she was with said. We walked about four blocks before they realized we had gone in the wrong directions. Phoenix, Q and Pitch took turns carrying the passed out girl.
We decided to once again split into two groups. Q, Ghost, Mantis and Midnight Jack stayed with the intoxicated girl and the man while the other girl in the group walked with Phoenix, Pitch, El Caballero and I back to her car.
By the time we reached the girls car, we realized that she was also fairly intoxicated. She insured us that she was not drunk, and did not need our help. However, she couldn't figure out how to start her car. Phoenix called Mantis to tell him to call an Ambulance to check on the second girl and we would all be on our way back momentarily. The girl in the car repeatedly told us that she would be okay.
As Phoenix, Pitch Black, El Caballero and I reached the second group, the Aid car was arriving. It wasn't too long before they they had contacted an AMR car to transport the girl to Harborview. According to one of the responding medics, the girl we had just carried had an obstruction in her lungs and needed immediate medical attention. As we waited for the AMR car to be loaded, Pitch and Mantis ran back to where the less intoxicated girls car was park to make sure she was okay and had not left the area.
Now the last thing we had to worry about was the man who was with the girls. During this entire time, the one thing he was concerned about was how much "all this", meaning the hospital, AMR car, etc, was going to cost. He kept repeating on the phone that the problem was not as bad as everyone was making it sound. "I am an ex-alcholoic and nothing bad ever happened." he told Phoenix.
As we walked back to the parking lot where the less intoxicated girl's car was parked, the girl began to attempt to leave the parking lot. Talking her out of going, she waited for the man that was with her group. Q convinced the girl to park the car and sober up a little before heading home.
Overall it was a busy and very productive night!
Phoenix, Purple Reign and I left a little before midnight to attend the Belltown Citizens On Patrol (BCOP) weekly walk through Belltown. As we reached the usual BCOP meeting spot, we saw El Caballero walking alone.
Jumping in the car, he informed us the BCOP walk was canceled. Instead of heading home, we all decided to patrol Belltown on our own.
The streets were almost vacant of college age club goers; however there were plenty of the regular drug dealers and addicts wondering about.
I made a few passes through the area, mainly driving through alleyways before parked not too far out of Belltown. We were met by Nameless (No Name), Midnight Jack and Ghost.
After spending about an hour walking around Bell, we decided to change locations. Nothing was happening here, not tonight. The Seattle Police had taken up their posts on our usual corners, keeping a watchful eye on the few that lingered in the area.
Walking back to our the cars, we saw a bright orange construction cone protruding from a van's windshield. The red pontiac minivan sat across the street from a shady bar full of patrons. As the seven of us circled around the car, inspecting the damage, a couple exited the bar and yelled over to us, "You just missed it!"
"Did you see it?" Phoenix replied
"Yes!" The girl responded.
We quickly learned that an extremely intoxicated guy with blond spiky hair and a blue sweatshirt was wearing the cone as a hat before smashing it into the parked car. We were informed that he had continued on his way north down the dimly lit street towards the space needle.
We were only a few minutes behind him.
Our casually paced patrol turned into a quick jog. How were we going to find one man in a dark outfit, drunkenly walking around the streets of seattle.
We decided to split into two teams. Phoenix, Purple, Ghost and I took the car while El Caballero, Nameless, and Midnight continued to search by foot.
After about a block or two, we realize that the chances of finding this man are close to none. We all regroup back at the minivan. While we were standing outside the bar talking to bar patrons, a short stocky woman begins yelling from across the street, "I'm gunna kill you!" in the direction of a man walking not even half a block away from us.
We quickly intervene.
She tells us we need to stop the man before he takes off. Assessing the situation, and noticing it was quickly escalating, Phoenix tells both parties to calm down and explain what is going on.
"He stole my money." She barks in our direction
"I aint stole shit." The man replies as he quickly walks towards first avenue.
Phoenix and I are right behind the man closely followed by El Caballero and Midnight Jack.
Once on first, we found a cop car parked outside one of the popular clubs. As El Caballero and Midnight Jack continue pursuit, Phoenix explained to the officer what was going on. Before he was done, the woman appears and takes over.
Phoenix was off again. We found Caballero who informed us that he had lost Midnight and the man in the parking lot half a block away.
People hanging out in the parking lot, told us that the masked man went up a set of stairs back to Second Avenue, We all took off again.
At the top of the stairs, there they were; walking in circles. We briskly walked a block before cutting in front of on coming traffic, heading back to where we started.
As Phoenix pleads with the man to stop and talk to us, he attempts to get in a cab. "Don't do that!" Phoenix Yells. Midnight Jack calls 911 to tell them we have found the man.
We follow the man up to third, and back down to the minivan where we are met by a few of his friends. Phoenix is quickly surrounded. As he avoids an altercation, the man we were following jumps into an orange cab. Nameless informs the driver that his new passenger is wanted in an on going investigation and the cab can not take him away from the scene.
Despite Nameless's pleads, the cab speeds off towards Pike, leaving us there.
What we had learned was that the woman took a "hit" of the mans crack before the man allegedly stole $20 from the woman. It was just another drug dispute in Belltown. Nothing we have not seen before, and something we will see next time we are in Belltown.
After the cab left, we decided to call it a night and head home. Another night for the books.
Tonight Phoenix, Purple Reign, a journalist from the UK and I went downtown to meet up with Ghost, El Caballero, and Nameless. On our way down to our meeting location, I received a phone call from El Caballero informing us he saw a man steal a black rolly backpack from someone downtown and he was in pursuit; alone. From the back seat, Phoenix leaned forward and informed the journalist that, "Every time something bad has happened to me, I was by myself." Turning to me he then quickly said, "we need to hurry." With this the race was on to back up a fellow superhero. We quickly parked near Pike Place Market, where El Caballero had told us the suspect was last seen.
During our search, we were met by a car full of people who asked us what we were doing and if they could tag along for the night. We decided that it was best that they did not join us and that they contact Phoenix via facebook to find out how they can join us for a patrol. As the rain continued to fall, we all parted ways.
About a block later, we saw their silver mid-90's Ford Explorer round the corner. The passenger, a man in his mid to early twenties, clutching and pointing a handi-cam in our direction, leaned out the window. He told us that a someone matching the description of the suspect was a block North East from where we were currently located. Quickly, we ran up the slippery steep hill and down second. Catching my breath, Phoenix and Caballero confirmed that the man our friends in the car had found was not the person we were looking for.
We told two bicycle police officers, who looked less then pleased with our arrival, what we witnessed. They were polite but brief. Phoenix thanked them and then continued on patrol.
When you hit the streets as often as we do, you hear the same stories and see the same people committing the same crimes night after night. Tonight was not any different. When we made it back to Pike, we were met by a man who told us this long story about how he and his wife were stranded in seattle, only needing a few extra dollars for the ferry ride home. Spectacle of the situation, Phoenix decided to go with him to the ferry docks to meet his wife and provide assistance for their ride home; only if the story checked out.
I was strongly against the idea because we far away from the ferry, which left in 5 minutes, as well as the fact that we have heard this story countless times before. That being said, we all followed the scrawny and grungy looking man down the stairs of Pike Place Market and along the waterfront to the Ferry terminals. On our way, I checked the times of departure for the ferry. Surprisingly this part of his story was checking out.
By the time we had reached the terminals, we were soaking wet and the ferry had already left. "Where is she?" Phoenix asked the man who had led us down here. "Man, the ferry left so she went to a shelter for the night." This comment prompted a debate on what shelter would let someone in at this time. With one phone call, we discovered that the Mission stopped letting people in hours ago, and the mystery of the stranded couple had been solved. He had fed us the same story we had heard many times before. There was no wife, no missed ferry, and no shelter.
As the rain softly fell, we all returned back to our cars and parted ways. It was a busy night, but nothing out of the ordinary. For once, I was home and sound asleep before 2am.
While the city sleeps, i join Phoenix Jones and his fellow superheroes while they patrol the dark streets of downtown Seattle looking for crime and random acts of violence. Although more often then not we find nothing, it is the one or two events that make this treacherous journey all worth while.
Thinking back on these past few months, I realized that some of the stuff we deal with or experience should be told. It is one thing to walk around the streets fully trained in mixed martial arts, but it is something completely different to be behind a camera, capturing events as they unfold. This blog will be used to tell some of these stories, and to keep a record of what we come across on a nightly basis. Enjoy!