Yet Another Murder in Leschi Caps an Annus Horribilis for the Tony Neighborhood

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The Leschi street where Aaron Sullivan was killed
With its waterfront views and charming craftsmen homes, Leschi is generally considered a pretty tony address--the "gold coast" of the Central District, if you will. So residents must be wondering what in the world is going on there this year, which has proved to be the neighborhood's annus horribilis.

A string of traumatic crimes has hit Leschi, the latest of which was revealed yesterday when King County prosecutors filed a murder charge against a 53-year-old man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in their Leschi apartment.

Only last summer, the neighborhood was shaken up by the shooting death of 18-year-old Aaron Sullivan on 32nd Avenue S. The alleged shooter is one of Leschi's own, a 19-year-old who lived on that street with his parents. Adding to the neighborhood's trauma was a mutli-hour SWAT operation that had neighbors cowering on their floors.

Then, in November, came the drive-by shooting of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton, who was sitting in a parked car at the intersection of 29th Avenue and East Yesler Way. Unimaginably, four Lakewood officers were gunned down only a few weeks later. When officers throughout the area launched a manhunt to find the assailant, where did they search? Leschi. Another SWAT operation surrounded--and ultimately nearly destroyed-- the home of shooter Maurice Clemmons' aunt, complete with helicopters flying overhead. As with the Sullivan SWAT operation, it turned out the suspect was not there.

And now, there's the fatal stabbing. According to charging papers, Dennis Hart and girlfriend Regina Calip-Elix got into an argument on the night of December 16th in their ground-floor 28th Avenue S. apartment, near S. Jackson Street (not the toniest part of Leschi). According to Hart's later account to police, he told Calip-Elix he was tired of supporting her crack habit. He also suspected that his girlfriend was having an affair.

Calip-Elix retreated to the kitchen, but then emerged with several knives in her hand, Hart told police. "He wasn't able to explain exactly what happened next," a detective said in his report. But somehow, Calip-Elix dropped her knives, Hart got hold of one, and he stabbed her in the chest. When police arrived, they found a bloodied Farberware carving knife with an 8 inch blade.

With 2009 nearly over, Leschi can only wish that's the last bloody event in the neighborhood.

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