A police-issued AR-15 semiautomatic rifle was left unsecured atop the trunk of a Seattle police car as it drove around the streets of downtown on the evening of June 27. "I flagged down bike officers who were shocked as hell," says Nick Gonzales, who spotted the weapon as he was walking along Seventh Avenue near Pine Street. He sent this photo to The Stranger.
Contacted for an explanation, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb of the Seattle Police Department said: "The department is very embarrassed that this happened. We're incredibly grateful to the person that flagged down the bike officers and to the woman who followed the patrol car driver around to let them know there was a rifle on the back of the car."
When pressed for details on how a semiautomatic rifle was left where it could fly off the car and into the hands of anybody downtown, Whitcomb stated, "I'm not going to comment." He added that the West Precinct has launched "an investigation into the circumstances that allowed this to happen."
SPD isn't releasing the names of the patrol officers; Whitcomb says they didn't break any laws. SPD also won't confirm whether the semiautomatic was loaded during its unsecured joyride through our fair city. "It was an opportunity for someone to take something that doesn't belong to them, yes," Whitcomb says. "It most certainly shouldn't happen at a police department level. People should expect more."
Since first posting the photo on our blog, Slog, The Stranger has been contacted by more than a dozen news outlets—including the Associated Press, NBC, and local television news stations—asking for permission to run the photo. It looks like the SPD is in for another national shitstorm.