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Seattle shop owner rushes to business to stop vandal during protests

Suspect allegedly set front counter on fire, stole cash and car keys, and was detained while Car Tender owner awaited police, who failed to arrive after numerous 911 calls

Seattle—John McDermott and his wife had just celebrated their wedding anniversary and returned home when he got the call. Someone had broken into his repair shop through a smashed window and was trying to set it on fire. His shop, Car Tender, on Capitol Hill, had just become another statistic and victim of bad actors in protester violence in the CHOP/CHAZ area last week on Sunday night.

McDermott and his son, Mason, both rushed from their homes to the shop, which sits just outside the protester perimeter zone.

Car Tender shop owner John McDermott at the scene after being called from his home.

“I went inside and there was a fire on the front counter, then we caught the suspect, who was still there,” he said in a live video from ShawnGui on Twitch on the scene. His son added that they recovered what they could of stolen property, including $5,000 and car keys.

They were able to detain the suspect while they awaited police, by pinning him to the ground. Protesters, however, gathered outside, crashed the shop fence and demanded they release the suspect, which they did.

“I called the police and they made it sound like they were going to show up,” the elder McDermott reported, “but by my tenth call to them, they basically said they weren’t coming.” (He later discovered it was 19 calls.)

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) told McDermott they couldn’t come to the shop due to the proximity of the demonstrations. Later the next day, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins stopped by to speak with the McDermott. He said they require clearance from SPD to respond inside the CHAZ/CHOP zone, but should’ve been able to respond to Car Trader, which is outside the zone, according to a KIRO 7 report. He said the fire department is looking into why no one responded.

Both men told KIRO 7 that they largely agree with the core message of the protests.  “The goal was to make the changes,” John McDermott said. “My heart is sad with all these people.”

Mason added, “I think there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.”

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