Posted on August 9, 2013 at 8:39 PM
Friday, Aug 9 at 9:12 PM
SEATTLE -- Brutal attacks and robberies are starting to become the norm on Seattle's Capitol Hill and community members are not happy. They're fighting back with a campaign called "No One Walks Alone," which teaches people how to avoid being targets.
"If you read the police reports, 95% of them are walking alone and they're on their phone," said Shaun Knittel, an organizer.
According to Knittel, a member of the group Social Outreach Seattle, the majority of recent victims have things in common. Most are walking alone, distracted with their phones or drunk.
"The criminals are looking for that, and unfortunately they keep finding it again and again and again," said Knittel.
Ryan Kohler was walking home alone early Thursday morning when he was approached by a crowd of men asking him to use his phone. He said no.
"One turned to me and pulled out a gun," said Kohler.
Kohler jumped across the car and managed to get away.
"I just started yelling he's got a gun hes got a gun as I started running as fast as I can," he said.
Bars and businesses like Neighbours Nightclub are embracing the effort by hanging up signs for customers to see.
"People should be able to come in here, go to their cars, go anywhere without being attacked," said Steve Tracy, a manager.
Because of the recent attacks, Tracy has told his staff to be extra cautious.
"If they see someone walking down the alley alone, they'll say grab a friend or we can guide them to their car," he said.
The hope is to stop this dangerous cycle to shift the power from criminals back to the community.
"If they realize we aren't going to make ourselves targets, they'll move onto somewhere else," said Kohler.
The campaign also calls for people to be better witnesses. Although being a victim of a crime can be overwhelming, remembering details like what criminals are wearing and what they look like can be a huge asset to police.