Police identify suspect in fatal attack at traffic circle
Seattle police are looking for Brian Keith Brown, a 28-year-old Renton man with a criminal history that includes a conviction for third-degree assault, in connection with the beating death of James Paroline in a confrontation last week at a Rainier Beach traffic circle.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle police are looking for a 28-year-old Renton man in connection with the fatal beating of James Paroline during a confrontation Wednesday at a Rainier Beach traffic circle.
A video of the assault filmed by a neighbor shows Paroline getting "sucker-punched" by the suspect, identified by police as Brian Keith Brown, according to charging papers released Monday. Paroline, 60, who suffered a fractured skull when his head struck the pavement, died a day later, the papers said.
The attack came after Paroline was confronted by three teenage girls who were angry that he had set up traffic cones in the street as he gardened in the traffic circle in front of his home at 61st Avenue South and South Cooper Street. The girls threw a jug of water at Paroline and they claim he responded by squirting water at them from a hose.
Police say Brown intervened a few minutes later.
When interviewed by police, the girls initially told investigators that they didn't know the man who punched Paroline in the head. A day later the girls offered up Brown's name and admitted he was a boyfriend of a friend, according to the charging papers.
Brown has been charged with second-degree murder and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The King County Prosecutor's Office is requesting that Brown be held on $500,000 bail when he is arrested.
Brown has prior convictions for third-degree assault, drug possession, obstructing a law-enforcement officer, theft and criminal trespassing.
Brown pleaded guilty to assault in 2005 and was sentenced to four months in jail after he attacked a woman in her Renton apartment. The victim said Brown choked and head-butted her after Brown and his girlfriend showed up at the woman's apartment, according to court charging papers.
According to accounts of last week's attack from neighbors and police, Paroline was gardening in the traffic circle in front of his home at around 8 p.m. Wednesday and had set up traffic cones to keep cars from driving over a garden hose. Three teenage girls in a car stopped and told him to remove the traffic cones, but Paroline refused.
The girls then got out of their car and confronted Paroline, neighbors said.
The video of the attack, shot by an unidentified neighbor, showed Paroline attempting to ignore the girls and continue watering, charging papers said.
One threw a jug of water at Paroline, the charging papers say.
The girls can be heard on the video claiming that Paroline had squirted them with water and had assaulted one of them. However, that cannot be seen on the video, charging papers said.
Several minutes later, Brown pulled up in a silver sedan and walked up to Paroline and punched him in the face, charging paper said.
"Paroline's hands were at his side at the time the punch was delivered, and he was not in an offensive or defensive stance," according to charging papers.
Neighbors said they saw Paroline fall backward and strike his head on the asphalt. They said the suspect fled after the attack.
On Monday, Greg Goodwin, the slain man's brother-in-law, said his family is struggling to understand why somebody would beat the man known to them by the nickname "Jage" while he was gardening.
Goodwin said that Paroline, a bachelor, was proud of the traffic circle he lobbied the city to construct in 2005 after a car drove into his house.
"He felt a connection to it," Goodwin 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.
"Gardening, his dogs and hiking were his passions," Goodwin said.
The second oldest of 11 children, Paroline was a good brother and decorated Army lieutenant in the Vietnam War, said his sister Virginia Goodwin of Bonney Lake.
Virginia Goodwin said her brother "may have reacted badly" to the girls confronting him over the cones, but the beating was unnecessary.
"If they asked him nicely to remove the cones, I'm sure it would have been different. They could have driven over his cones; who would it have hurt?" she said.
His death has drawn the concern of hundreds of Rainier Beach residents, many of whom plan to attend a community meeting tonight to share their concerns with police about crime in the area.
Yolanda Gill, of the Rainier Beach Joint Block Watch, said Paroline's death was the catalyst for the meeting at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church.
"We are seeing gang activity, graffiti, incidents where people are mugged and a number of things," Gill said.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church, 9656 Waters Ave. S.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
Seattle Times news researchers Miyoko Wolf and Gene Balk contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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