Three people, two of which are Seattle firemen, have been accused of assaulting a homeless man on Saturday night after spotting him sleeping near a Seattle firefighters memorial, which is set amidst a small grove of trees near the southern part of Occidental Park. All three attackers are believed to have been drunk before starting the fight.
The two men and one woman had just finished watching Saturday’s Sounders soccer game and were walking through Pioneer Square just before 6:00 p.m., which is where the Seattle Fallen Firefighters Memorial is located. The memorial has been in Occidental Park, which is close to the Pioneer Square Seattle Fire Department headquarters, Station 10, since its dedication in 1998. The bronze memorial, which depicts four life-size figures, two of which are standing and two of which are on their knees, was inspired by the four firemen who died in 1995 whilst fighting a blaze in a warehouse in Seattle’s Chinatown International District. According to the artist, Seattle’s Hai Ying Wu, the anonymity of the figures is intentional because it is meant to represent all of Seattle’s firefighters. Near the bronze figures, which weigh 500 pounds each, is a granite stone engraved with the words of Wu, words that explain the memorial as a realistic representation “with exaggerated gestures to emphasize the intensity of the battle in which they are engaged.”
The woman allegedly grew so offended by the homeless man sleeping on the memorial that she began yelling at the man and kicking him. According to a written statement by Renee Witt, the spokeswoman for the Seattle Police Department, after the woman began her attack,one of the firemen picked up a stick from the ground and proceeded to hit the victim with it. The third man then joined in the attack. The relationship between the three has not been determined. Reporters from Seattle’s KING-5 say that according to a witness, before kicking the man, one of the firefighters said, “My brother died in the service.”
The victim of the beating was carrying a knife, which he used to stab one of his attackers in defense. KOMO-TV reports that the firefighter who suffered the stab wound is Scott Bullene. Sue Stangl, spokeswoman for the Seattle Fire Department, states that Bullene is in stable condition at Harborview Medical Center. Stangl added that the victim of the attack refused to be treated at the hospital, but he is expected to be okay.
According to Stangl, Bullene has been employed since 1999 as a firefighter by the Seattle Fire Department, but has not worked since March 13 due to disability. The other fireman has been with the department since 1997. He, too, is out on disability and has been since Jan 9.
The uninjured firefighter and the woman have been arrested and charged with assault. They both remain unidentified. Witt wrote in her statement that Bullene will be arrested and charged with assault after his release from the hospital.
Seattle Fire Department officials will meet on Monday in order to determine the fate of the two involved firefighters.
By Jennifer Pfalz