'Vampire' who created bomb scare held on $150,000 bond

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by KING 5 News Staff and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on March 12, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 13 at 3:17 PM

SEATTLE -- The man who alarmed people in downtown Seattle Friday morning with a device strapped to him, claiming to be a vampire, chose not to appear in court Saturday, but was ordered held on $150,000 bond because he's considered to be a significant threat to the public.

Police were called to the area near the King County Courthouse Friday after the man entered a homeless shelter told the staff he was a vampire and threatened to blow up the building.

On Thursday, the 33-year-old man appeared before King County District Court Judge Anne Harper for Mental Health Court. He told a judge that his medications were not working.

Harper was surprised to learn of his actions on Friday.

"He seems like he was doing OK," she said.

The 33-year-old was there for a previous conviction for trying to buy drugs. The defendant told the judge his medications were not working. Judge Harper ordered the defense attorney to look into it and wanted the man to appear next week.

"He was waiting for an evaluation from Western State Hospital," said Harper.

Harper says Western State is backlogged and mental health evaluations are taking two to three months.

Commotion outside the courthouse

Seattle Police responded to numerous calls shortly after 8 a.m. Friday and closed off the area around Third Avenue and James Street near the King County Courthouse.

"He's a very disturbed person," said Shelly Johnson, a woman who says she witnessed the man walk into Seattle's Union Gospel Mission with the contraption around his body. "He had black duct tape all around his body and something metal on his hand."

"This man came in claimed to be a vampire and wanted food, which he explained was people," said Mission director Mike Johnson.

The workers asked the man to leave, and that's when Johnson says the man took off his jacket.

"He brandished what appeared to be a pipe bomb and wanted someone to take it off of his arm. We all just sort of looked at each other with wide eyes and the guy just ran up here to the courthouse," said Johnson.

A nearby apartment resident, Justin Anderson, said he saw the man walking down the street, pacing in circles and playing with tape that held the pipe to his arm.

"I was enjoying a leisurely morning," the 29-year-old student said. "Then something more interesting happened."

A Seattle SWAT team quickly arrived at the scene and surrounded the man at Third Avenue and Yesler Way, about a block from the courthouse. SWAT Members pointed their weapons at the suspect, ordering him to put his hands behind his head.

"We corralled him with officers and he did what we asked of him," says Seattle Police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb.

The negotiations and arrest all went down in front of Drexel Grocery.

"It was really a long process so we were kind of anxious about what was going to happen. We were thinking we were going to die or something," said store clerk Daniel Hwang.

The man laid down on the sidewalk. By 9:15 a.m., Seattle police had the suspect in custody. No injuries were reported.

Police later determined the device, which was a metal pipe with metal end caps and wires protruding from it, was not a bomb.

House Bill 3076 is sitting on the Governor's desk. The bill would allow judges more discretion when it comes to sending mentally ill defendants to involuntary treatment at state psychiatric facilities.

One supporter is Eleanor Owen. She is the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Seattle. Owen says the justice system is not to blame for today's act.

"There are no villains here. Everybody is trying to do the best they can," she said.

Owen says the mentally ill need long-term treatment and not jail time.

"This is not an illness the person has taken on by choice. This is something... genetic," she said.

KING 5's Tonya Mosley, Rob Piercy and Kyle Moore, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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