Seattle police blotter: shooting at Westlake Mall

The first story, on 2006-10-08: Man fatally shot in front of Westlake Center

A man who was assaulted by a stranger in front of Westlake Center in Seattle pulled out a gun and shot his attacker once, killing him.

It happened outside the busy mall about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday as hundreds of shoppers jammed the stores and sidewalks.

Plenty of people were already watching the two men in their mid 20's engaged in a loud argument.

The follow-up, 3 days later: Man who was shot near Westlake Center had a record

The man shot and killed near Westlake Center over the weekend was identified this week as a troubled young man who struggled with both drug use and mental illness and once tried to burn down his mother's day care center.

Daniel Allen Culotti, 25, died Saturday from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, the King County Medical Examiner's Office reported.

The 52-year-old man who shot Culotti was briefly detained, then released after Seattle police determined the shooting was likely a case of self-defense.

Culotti made headlines in June 2001 when he set fire to the day care center his mother operated in North Seattle, which at the time was filled with nine children, including a 5-month-old baby. He was sentenced in January 2002 to less than two years in prison, though prosecutors had sought an eight-year term. In the end, he served just over a year.

So, on Sunday, there were two 20-year-old men having a loud argument. But on Wednesday, we find out that one was 25 years old and such a "disturbed" person that he tried to murder his own mother and several children she was caring for, and the gentleman who killed him in self-defense was twice his age.

Read the second article, and do the math: if Culotti had been serving the prosecutor's recommended sentence, he would still have been in prison. Not on a street, kicking another citizen.

But just in case you thought King County prosecutors were good guys ignored by judges, read Wrong arrest in luring case.

For more than four months, Robert Powell was a tormented soul -- charged with attempting to lure an 11-year-old girl into his Dodge van.

After the girl picked him out of a photo lineup and described the van, the 53-year- old Issaquah man was arrested. His apartment was searched. His car was impounded. He spent a day in jail before his friends could raise the bail.

Authorities Tuesday admitted they locked up the wrong guy.

King County prosecutors belatedly dropped two charges -- luring, a felony; and indecent exposure, a misdemeanor -- pending against Powell.

And why did they arrest and attempt to prosecute this gentleman? (Note: all emphasis mine)

They called Issaquah police, who traced the van to Powell. When officers arrived at his apartment, they found a thin man with straight dark hair -- somewhat matching the description.

Powell, who works odd jobs, told them they had the wrong man because he had been raking leaves at the time of the alleged incident. He refused to let the police in.

In their report, the officers described Powell as "nervous" and "very agitated."

Using a search warrant, officers found a leather "Lasso Rope" in the van, along with a stick, a Buck knife, zip ties and other rope. In their report, the officers said the stick may have been the "tree" the girl mentioned.

Mr. Powell's comment: "Once they had me, they started to bend the evidence they had to fit me. They were just talking to me like garbage."

Lesson to us all.

Written by Andrew Ittner in misc on Sun 15 October 2006. Tags: news