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Originally published September 12, 2009 at 12:14 AM | Page modified September 13, 2009 at 12:02 AM

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Corrected version

Green Lake robberies part of a pattern?

Seattle police are investigating whether a string of robberies since last Saturday may be related. The robberies have been in North Seattle, Capitol Hill, Magnolia and Green Lake.

Seattle Times staff reporter

John Morrill considers Green Lake his park.

The 40-year-old grew up near the Seattle landmark and spent every summer swimming there.

That's why the recent rash of armed robberies at or near the park have left him angry.

"That does make me mad," the Northgate man said Friday while walking in the park. "I don't want to not use this park or be scared of [robbers]. I don't want them to win."

Still, Morrill said, he doesn't plan to visit the park at night anytime soon.

Police said five people were robbed Thursday night in two separate incidents at Green Lake Park near North 65th Street and East Greenlake Way North. On Tuesday, a woman was robbed at gunpoint in the park in the 7200 block of East Greenlake Drive North.

Seattle police are investigating whether those are connected with a string of similar robberies in North Seattle, Capitol Hill and Magnolia since Saturday.

The robberies, seven in all, have occurred between 11:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. and suspect descriptions have been similar, according to police. Victims have described the suspects as two to four black males in their late teens to early 20s. In some cases, they wore bandannas across their faces and baggy clothing.

"It is possibly being done by the same group of suspects," Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said.

Bandannas over faces

In the two most recent incidents at Green Lake around 11:25 Thursday night, three suspects were described as wearing sunglasses, bandannas over their faces and dark clothing. Police were unable to track them using a K-9 unit or by helicopter.

About an hour later, early Friday, police were called to the 1700 block of Boylston Avenue East, where two men had been robbed at gunpoint. They described one of the robbers as over 6 feet tall, with a red bandanna across his face and displaying a gun.

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Police said a weapon was not used in every incident.

The first holdup in the string was reported last Saturday when a man was punched and robbed by two men in the 2200 block of Northeast 45th Street, police said. One robber was wearing a black puffy jacket, police said. The men drove off in a dark sedan.

The victim in that attack told KING-TV the men were "wearing just regular attire."

"That's why I didn't think anything twice of it," said the man, who gave his name as Tyler.

"Guys came around the corner and just decided to punch me in the face and then as soon as that happened they just started kicking me and kept continuing to punch me," Tyler told KING-TV.

"They asked for my cellphone and wallet. I held on to my cellphone. However, they were able to rip the back pocket off my jeans and steal the wallet."

The second robbery occurred at 12:30 a.m. Monday in the 12300 block of Roosevelt Way Northeast. Four victims said they were robbed by four men, one in a puffy jacket. Two of the robbers carried handguns, police said, and they drove off in a dark car with a spoiler and tinted windows.

Use common sense

Last year, there were 1,612 robberies in Seattle and 1,522 the year before, according to FBI statistics.

But the similarities between the recent robberies and the fact that a handgun has sometimes been used has left many residents concerned.

Police advise people to use caution and common sense when in areas where the robberies have occurred, especially after dark.

"We are so used to having the freedom to go and do what we want when we want, but if people go out in darkness, they should be cautious, alert and aware," said Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt. "If you have to walk, don't walk with your iPod. Follow your intuition, trust your feelings. Get out of a situation if it does not feel right."

Witt also advised people to stay in lighted areas.

On a sunny Friday, Green Lake Park was filled with walkers, runners, picnickers and people wading in the water. Like Morrill, many said they had been angered to learn of the attacks. Others were frightened.

"This is our favorite place and now it's getting to be scary," said Allison Norris, 25, who was at the park with three of her girlfriends and their babies.

"I wouldn't want to be here after dark," said her friend Kimberly Greene, 28. "It turns 180 degrees at nighttime."

"It almost makes you want to become a vigilante," said a man who did not want to be named. "But I don't know if I have the 'can-do' for that."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

An earlier version of this story, published September 12, 2009, was corrected September 12, 2009. The previous story incorrectly stated that a woman was robbed at gunpoint in the park in the 7800 block of Greenlake Drive North. The robbery occurred in the 7200 block of East Greenlake Drive North.

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