North Bend area on alert after rape of restaurant worker
While police say they’re “confident” they’re closing in on a suspect in the assault of a North Bend restaurant employee, some bar and restaurant workers are taking extra precautions.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bartender Elizabeth Kearney doesn’t intend to be alone again when she closes the Riverbend Cafe for the night. She plans on having kitchen staff wait for her and walk her to her car.
And even then, she says, she’ll have her finger “on the trigger of a mace can.”
Like a lot of other women who work late in North Bend and Snoqualmie, Kearney is frightened by news that a woman had been bound, raped and stabbed as she finished her shift at a North Bend restaurant late Sunday.
“Just when you think you live and work in a safe community, you find out it can happen here,” Kearney said Monday.
Police say the victim was alone and had finished her shift at Jay Berry’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta in the 400 block of Southwest Mount Si Boulevard when she stepped outside the back door around 11 p.m. and was accosted by a man.
The man forced the woman, a mother of two in her 30s, back into the restaurant where she was bound with duct tape, sexually assaulted and stabbed, police said.
The woman was taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue with non-life-threatening injuries and was listed in stable condition on Monday, police said.
Police said the victim was unable to give a good description of her assailant because it was dark and the attacker was wearing a hooded jacket and a scarf over his face.
Snoqualmie-North Bend Police Chief Steve McCulley said police believe the attacker may have targeted the restaurant or the victim, but he declined to provide further details to avoid compromising the investigation.
He said investigators with the department’s major-crimes unit “are pretty confident it wasn’t something random and that they’re getting close to him.”
Jay Berry’s owner, Semo Calvo, told Q13 News that she visited the victim at the hospital on Monday and is planning to keep the restaurant closed while security procedures are revamped.
“The employees would go out the back door, and the only reason for that is the door locks by itself so everybody doesn’t have to have keys, which is also a security thing for the restaurant. That will change, they’ll go out the front and park in the front. We’ll also have the buddy system at closing,” Calvo told the TV station.
Serina Yama, who works at a Subway sandwich shop in North Bend, said she will be asking her manager to provide extra security at the end of the night at least until a suspect is caught.
“Being a girl, it’s scary at closing,” Yama said.
Another woman, who works at a nearby Taco Time but asked not to be named, said she was planning to have a friend wait outside for her when she ends her shift.
McCulley, the chief, said extra police patrols will be conducted at business closing times until a suspect is arrested.
However, he stressed that police do not believe the attack was random.
Nevertheless, he said people should be alert but not afraid.
The city of North Bend had been policed by the King County Sheriff’s Office up until Friday, when it entered into a new contract for services with the Snoqualmie Police Department.
McCulley said the area is safe, despite a number of high-profile crimes in North Bend, including an infant’s body that was found near town a month ago, and the survivalist who killed his family before taking his own life in a makeshift bunker two years ago.
“These are strange crimes and they are anomalies. I could have 500 officers on the streets and not be able to stop them,” he said.
But the crimes don’t mean that people aren’t safe in North Bend, McCulley said.
“I cannot tolerate when people feel they are not safe or secure. We are going to solve this and get the criminal elements off our streets.”
Anyone with information about the attack is encouraged to call police at 425-888-3333 or 911. Callers may remain anonymous.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Christine Clarridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-8983.