Used Furniture owners recovering from hate crimes: Suspect served but not arrested

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Photo by Kylin Brown
Photo by Kylin Brown

Following an escalation of apparent hate crimes on Jan. 14, covered previously by the SGN, the suspect in the attacks on Summit Avenue East's Used Furniture has been identified and charged. Police and attorneys advised the owner-couple, John Evans and John Morrison, to move forward with a restraining order while awaiting the judicial process.

A neighbor with a long criminal record
While Evans has recovered from the physical assault by the suspect that day, the store has been "completely upended," he told me.

Meanwhile, the couple fears retaliation. Their 250-foot restraining order and new indoor cameras are their only means of protection. The man lives in a building within the 1,000-foot restraining order range that they were hoping for.

"The restraining order would have been larger, but he lives down the street from our store. Our attorney hired a private investigator and found that he had 21 court appearances prior to this. He came down from Everett, where he'd done petty theft crimes for a long time," said Evans.

"This will be his first gross misdemeanor when we go to court," Morrison added, who expressed concern about how the man remains free with such a record. "We are trying to get all of our police reports, but they are running so behind... All the stuff you see on the TV is old crime. It makes you wonder, you know, what about accountability?"

He said that they now have six incident reports filed, and the assault will be considered a hate crime in court proceedings. They also have three eyewitness accounts of the assault and feel that with their video evidence, they might be able to prevent the man from "beating the system again."

The latest incident
Prior to the assault, the storefront was again hit with a liquid poop spray and trash was dumped around the entry. Evans was informed by a neighbor, and rushed to the scene. He recognized the man from previous footage and watched him from across the street. It was then that Evans approached him and told the man he knew it was his doing.

When Evans turned away following the confrontation, the man kicked him to the ground.

During the assault, Evans was dismayed by the lack of action from bystanders. "People didn't step up, I think out of fear," he said.

Now, the couple feels a small amount of relief in having identified and charged the suspect, though it took such a drastic event to be certain.

"We think we know why"
Evans and Morrison also realized that the man interfering with their business has been potentially holding a grudge.

After recognizing the suspect in person on Jan. 14, Evans said he recalled a previous confrontation he and his husband had with the man. Months before the vandalism began on Morrison's birthday last year, the couple got a call from a friend.

"He said, 'John, what's going on at your store?'" A man had been unloading truckloads of random goods and setting up shop to sell them out front of Used Furniture. He also told passersby that the business was his and that he was just working outside that day.

When Evans and Morrison arrived, they asked the man to leave. He responded coldly, saying, "If I can't be in business there, neither will you!"

Now, they worry that the man has become violent. Not only was he seen assaulting Evans last month, the couple also reported seeing him hitting a woman outside of a QFC on Broadway.

They have confirmed with their attorney's PI that the man is often intoxicated, and the footage of him spouting homophobic slurs toward their store prove that he bears some animus. While Evans and Morrison previously refrained from investigating who exactly was trashing their store, they feel that he is becoming dangerous.

Used Furniture has also absorbed thousands of dollars in expenses that they attribute to the suspect, from tires on their delivery truck, which were slashed late last fall, to accruing attorney costs and Evans' hospital visit. The business owners say they are "emotionally drained," and they are concerned about the recovery of their business.

Evans and Morrison currently await their next court date on Feb. 7.