Fatal attack at traffic circle
A Seattle man is dead after being attacked while tending to a traffic circle outside his Rainier Beach house on Wednesday night.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When city road crews built the traffic circle only steps from his upper Rainier Beach cottage nearly three years ago, the dirt and concrete barrier represented a victory for James Paroline.
The retired mortgage broker had endured years of traffic zipping past his yard, and once a wayward car even smashed into his house, neighbors said.
Paroline adopted the circle as an extension of his colorful yard — weeding, watering and tending to the purple, yellow and pink flowers that soon sprouted there.
But on Wednesday night, as he gardened inside the circle, Paroline was assaulted by a stranger in a dispute over orange construction cones Paroline had set up in the street. The 60-year-old died Thursday night from his injuries, a Harborview Medical Center supervisor said.
Seattle police searched for Paroline's attacker Thursday, and one department crime-prevention employee e-mailed details about the incident to more than 600 people in South Seattle with the hope of finding the attacker.
"I think that what was really egregious about this is that this crime was really unnecessary," Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson said Thursday, as Paroline was in critical condition.
Neighbors and police said that Paroline was in the traffic circle at 61st Avenue South and South Cooper Street around 8 p.m. when three teenage girls in a car stopped to confront him about the cones, telling him to remove them. Paroline refused, neighbors said.
Police said when the teenagers moved the cones Paroline sprayed them with his garden hose.
Witness Yonathan Kahssai and his brother, Abraham, said the girls retaliated by throwing water on Paroline from a large jug they had with them.
Stedman Tauala, 12, said he saw Paroline slap and push one of the girls, but Kahssai and his brother said they didn't see Paroline strike anyone.
Abraham Kahssai said he saw one of the girls shove Paroline and heard Paroline tell her to leave him alone.
Several minutes into the dispute, another car stopped and a man got out. Witnesses said the man walked up to Paroline and, without saying a word, punched him in the head.
Several people said they saw Paroline fall backward and strike his head on the asphalt.
The Kahssai brothers said they ran to help Paroline, supporting his neck to keep him from choking while they waited for medics.
"He shouldn't have been blocking the street, but he shouldn't be punched," said Yonathan Kahssai said. "Cooler heads could have prevailed."
Police described the attacker as a black male in his 20s, 5-feet-10 and 160 pounds. He wore a gray tank top, black jeans and a black "doo-rag" on his head. The man fled in a silver or light blue sedan, police said.
The three girls who argued with Paroline remained at the scene after the attack and were questioned and released, police said.
Detectives are investigating whether the man who assaulted Paroline knew the girls who had been arguing with Paroline, Jamieson said.
Jamieson said "a reasonable person" would have driven around the cones rather than getting into a fight with Paroline.
Neighbors said Paroline left enough room on the roadway for cars to get around the traffic cones.
Jamieson doesn't think Paroline was doing anything illegal by placing cones in the roadway while beautifying his street.
"I have a hard time believing in the last three years that this is the first time a car has pulled on the street while the victim is watering flowers," Jamieson said.
Nearly two-thirds of all of the city's 1,100 traffic circles are maintained by people who live near them, said Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation. Paroline was the point person for this particular traffic circle, officials said.
Several neighbors said Paroline, a Vietnam veteran, lobbied for the circle, which was installed in 2005.
Police are asking that anyone who witnessed the attack or has details about the attacker call the department's homicide unit at 206-684-5550.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case
NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
I've been fortunate to have traveled the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. Exotic islands, too. Wherever I go, I'm struck by one undeniable trut...
Post a comment