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Originally published September 16, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Page modified September 16, 2013 at 9:57 PM

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Gunfire ends half-naked man’s marina rampage

A boat owner fired shotgun blasts to end a boat thief’s $500,000 frenzy of destruction Sunday night at the Queen City Yacht Club in Seattle’s Portage Bay.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A boat owner who fired several shotgun blasts to stop an apparently drug-crazed 22-year-old man in a stolen boat from ramming other boats and docks at a Seattle yacht club said he did so to protect others in the area.

“I was protecting life and limb,” Dave Svensen said. “I’m basically anti-gun.”

Svensen, 69, fired the shots to end a Sunday-night rampage by a half-naked man who stole a boat at the Queen City Yacht Club and used it to ram about a dozen other vessels.

The suspect caused an estimated $500,000 in damage at the marina on Portage Bay before Svensen fired, a club official estimated. In addition to the damaged boats, a support post was hit, causing a section of the marina’s roof to fall.

Svensen, a military veteran who served briefly in Vietnam, said he borrowed the shotgun from the owner of an adjacent boat to end the 11 p.m. incident.

He decided to fire, he said, because the stolen boat appeared headed to ram a boat that Svensen knows someone is living aboard at the marina in the 2600 block of Boyer Avenue East.

Svensen said he doubted that the shotgun pellets, fired from a range of 30 to 40 feet, would severely injure the suspect.

“I was trying to scare him. ... It worked. It stopped him,” he said.

The suspect, who was not wearing pants and may have swum up to the boat he stole, was taken to Harborview Medical Center with what medics characterized as non-life-threatening injuries. He was hit in the head and hands, and appeared to be under the influence of drugs, police said.

After his medical treatment, he is expected to be booked into King County Jail for investigation of boat theft and property damage, both felonies.

Officers arrived a few minutes after the shooting, and Svensen directed them to the boat the suspect was on.

The suspect was attempting to flee the vessel as officers apprehended him.

As police took the suspect away, Svensen said he could see blood on the suspect’s face. Svensen was interviewed by police and released at the scene.

The stolen boat belongs to Bob Myers, the club’s vice commodore.

Myers said that when he got a call at home that boats had been damaged, he had no idea his had been “used as a ramrod.”

Myers said that when he got to the scene, about a dozen police cars were there. An officer, who also did not know Myers’ boat was involved, walked him out to see the damaged section of the marina because he was the ranking club member on hand.

“I see the stern and I go, ‘Holy crap, that’s my boat!’ I was in shock,” Myers said.

Police allowed him to go briefly aboard his 38-foot Bayliner, the Par-A-Gon, before it was taken to a nearby boatyard to be inspected as part of the police investigation.

“He totally trashed it,” Myers said. “He just destroyed everything inside.”

Myers said there was a lot of blood in the boat, along with holes from shotgun pellets, and the bow was destroyed from hitting other boats and a marina support.

Myers, a retired Seattle firefighter, estimated the damage to the boat and its contents at about $90,000.

He and his wife have owned the boat since 1996 and live on it part of the year, so there were a lot of personal possessions on board, including electronic gear.

Another yacht-club member, whose son’s boat was damaged, said the idea of shots being fired at the marina was chilling.

“I’m glad he did it. I’m glad I wasn’t in that position,” said Kent Soffel. “I think it would be very hard to make that decision.”

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

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