An altercation at the Fauntleroy dock on Saturday resulted in the arrest of a man who drew his gun and pointed it at an islander who was also involved in the incident.
The man was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on Saturday evening for intimidating with a weapon, a misdemeanor, according to Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson. He was released Monday evening. A spokesman for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office said that no charges were filed because he would likely have a valid “defense of others” claim. (It is Beachcomber policy not to name people unless they are charged.)
Mary Sage provided an eyewitness account of the incident, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday. A Honda cut in line and was then parked on the dock, Sage said. A fellow ferry traveler informed the occupants they had cut, to which they responded they did not care. Then an island man taped a sign to the Honda, identifying the occupants as cutters. A man got out of the Honda, and the man who had placed the sign on it reached in and pulled the keys from the ignition, throwing them into the exit lane. Sage believes he was aiming for the water, saying he yelled, “This is what happens to cutters,” and “Next time they are going into the sound.”
Then the man who would later be arrested got out of the car, drew his gun and pointed it at the islander who had thrown the keys. Sage said there was a shoving match with all three men — the line cutter, the man with the gun and the key thrower — “bumping chests.” Sage said her husband, Michael, went to alert the ferry workers to call the police.
“I did not take my eyes off the gun,” she said. “I thought, if the gun goes off, someone is going to get killed.”
When officers arrived, they found all parties in their cars, spokesman Jamieson said. The officers spoke to the victim — the key thrower— who indicated he had become angered at the line cutting, and to the man who had brandished his weapon. They did not talk to the line cutters, Jamieson added, saying the officers could not locate them. Sage indicated their car was on the dock until the vessel loaded and that neither the police nor the ferry workers talked to the occupants.
The armed man had a concealed carry permit, but was arrested because of his actions.
“He was legally authorized to carry, but you cannot point your gun at someone,” Jamieson said.
On Monday morning, Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling said he had learned of the incident and stressed the importance of calling 911 in such instances.
On social media, some islanders blamed Washington State Ferries and had suggested adding signage that warns about cutting. Sterling said increased signage might be possible but would require cooperation from the City of Seattle. He also questioned its effectiveness and noted that cutting is up throughout the system this year — part of a trend. Some people accidentally cut in line, he said, but others do not care and may simply decide to pay the possible $139 fine if they are reported. He also said for a fine to be assessed, an officer must see the line-cutting occur. Without that, offenders receive a warning letter.
WSF has a new flier about cutting, but has not changed its policy about how ferry personnel deal with cutters, Sterling said. He stressed that WSF personnel are not police officers and do not enforce the law. Sterling recommended reporting cutters’ license plates to 1-877-764-HERO. Taking that step might result in a fine or help police with repeat offenders. And, he said, it could help make the case for better signage.
Sterling also recommended a cautious approach for all involved.
“At the end of the day, this is not worth getting hurt over, for the cutter or cuttee,” he said.