Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling a bit out of sorts, so I decided to leave the lab a little bit early and catch a bus up to Pike Place Market to take in the view of Elliot Bay and buy some tulips for my wife (it's peak season, they are super-fresh this time of year from just up the road in the Skagit Valley, and they are her favorite flower.)
Hopping off the bus at 3rd Ave and Pike, there was a rather large tangle of people ahead of me on the sidewalk at the corner of Pine St., and a couple of police cruisers at the curb. Neither of which is terribly remarkable in and of themselves--that block, despite being two blocks from tourist central in one direction and from the core of the downtown shopping district in the other, is a well-known open air drug market. Shit happens there all the time, but it rarely gets truly dangerous.
Turns out this was one of those rare times.
I found myself near the front of a crowd that one SPD officer was working mightily to keep back (he wasn't very tall, and so I didn't see him until I got much closer than I would have on purpose.) Behind him, two or three officers were on the sidewalk, trying to stop a guy with multiple wounds from bleeding to death. Based on the size of the adjacent puddles, I'd say he'd lost a liter or two of blood at that point. Multiple police units arrived to help with crowd control, and my morbid curiosity quickly gave way to a much more prudent sense of "don't be here". I turned back and crossed over a block down.
It was at least another three minutes before the ambulance got there, due to rush hour bus and car traffic. Based on the police report, I figure I walked up within a minute or two of the stabbing.
I've heard a few people wondering how the police on the scene--who were literally right around the corner when this happened, and actually saw the beginning of the confrontation between the two men--managed to let the assailant get away. I have to say that based on what I saw, those guys did the right thing. If they hadn't immediately starting administering first aid, putting their backs to a chaotic and potentially dangerous situation a few feet away (particularly if someone had decided to come back and finish the job) that kid would surely have died before the ambulance showed up.
They did their job, and they did it well.