Should a person be legally required to call for help if they know a horrible crime is about to happen?
Some advocates are making that argument after text messages from the accused Mukilteo shooter became public this week.
“It churns me up inside,” said Melva Levick, of Federal Way.
Levick’s son, Joey, died in 1994 after he was attacked and lay in a ditch for 16 hours. More than a dozen people knew he was there. Not one of them called for help.
“He could have been saved, if one person had called,” said Levick.
She says news of the Mukilteo case hit home. The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office released text messages the accused Mukilteo shooter Allen Ivanov sent to a friend, showing he obsessed over an ex-girlfriend, bought a gun, and was threatening to kill everyone at a party.
Three people were shot to death, a fourth person was injured.
It's unclear if Ivanov's friend tried to warn anyone.
Levick believes people should be legally compelled to do the right thing.
For eight years she fought for the Joey Levick Law, and got plenty of pushback at the state legislature.
“I was determined,” she said. “I got 500,000 signatures, and they told me that's a moral issue; we can't pass a law like that.”
“People use the argument that you can't legislate morality,” said State Senator Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way. “Well what we're trying to do is legislate safety. We're trying to stop acts of violence, acts of terrorism, acts of hate.”
What Levick and Milsocia consider to be a “water-down version” of a good Samaritan law finally passed in 2005. It requires someone to summon assistance only if he/she is present when a crime is committed and someone has suffered substantial injury. The penalty for not doing so is a misdemeanor and/or a $1,000 fine.
Miloscia worries the law only has teeth if people are aware it exists.
Levick believes people not just need to be encouraged, they need to be required to call for help.
“You don't know if it’s a joke or if they're trying to be a big shot, but report it,” she said. “In [the Mukilteo] case it could have saved three lives, and it just sickens me.”