A man suspected of using methamphetamine allegedly jumped over a Seattle elementary school fence, entered a portable classroom and attempted to steal students’ backpacks. This caused a school lockdown. But when the police arrived, the school principal did not cooperate. This likely played a role in the suspect’s attempt to hijack a delivery van moments later.
The suspect is Liban Harasam, 20, and police say is a heavy user — the designation for prolific offenders the Seattle City Attorney will now prioritize after his arrest.
Police say Harasam arrived at Sand Point Elementary School just before 2:30 p.m. last Thursday. Police documents allege he jumped the campus fence where, according to a parent, he “harassed students and staff.” The parent said he “started digging [student] backpacks and hit a lot of them on the head and back” while brandishing a tennis racket.
The police were called after the school was locked down. But director Richard Baileykaze, according to the incident report, would not cooperate with the police, thus preventing an arrest.
When an officer arrived, he saw parents gathered outside the school. The officer was not initially informed that the school was closed.
“I met Principal R. [Baileykaze], in the north car park. He observed the suspect with two other teachers. He provided very little information about the incident. I was only informed that the suspect had jumped the fence,” the officer wrote in his incident report.
The officer observed Harasam “running in circles” while repeatedly dropping personal items, according to the report. He may have been stoned or suffering from a mental health crisis.
“The Principal R. [Baileykaze] and the other two teachers wouldn’t talk to me. I had not been informed of any crime, so I contacted the suspect thinking I was doing a welfare check, due to his mental state. He appeared to be under the influence of narcotics or possibly having a mental episode,” the officer wrote.
Harasam didn’t want to talk to the officer and left.
“Once HARASAM, LEBANON left the school grounds, Principal R. [Baileykaze] has now stated that the suspect took a child’s backpack,” the report states.
Main ‘probable cause destroyed’
The officer now had probable cause for misdemeanor robbery – he just needed the student’s information so he had a victim.
“The Principal R. [Baileykaze] now claimed HARASAM, LEBANON had the backpack. Principal R. [Baileykaze] turned away from me and left. He refused to tell me if anything had been caught in the backpack. He continued to walk away. I informed the radio of the principal’s uncooperative behavior, which destroyed the probable cause that a
crime took place. I was unable to validate his prior allegations of crime,” the report said.
Again, the principal did not help, leaving the suspect to walk, police said.
“I no longer had probable cause that the crime had taken place, since there was no identified victim for the robbery, and Principal R. [Baileykaze] left refusing to cooperate,” the officer wrote in the report.
Suspect charged with assault and prowling a vehicle
Without being able to stop him, Harasam fled. Shortly after, he was charged with assault and attempting to steal a DHL delivery van.
According to an incident report written by a second officer, the DHL driver “stated that he left his van running while performing a quick drop off.” It was then that he said he saw Harasam enter the van.
“[The driver] began yelling at the man to get out, believing the suspect was about to steal the vehicle. [The driver] arrived at the vehicle door and got stuck in the face with what he believed to be a blue binder. He attempted to step out of the way of the strike, but was hit in the mouth, causing his split lip to bleed. The [driver] pulled the man out of the vehicle, but the suspect grabbed the mounted cell phone the victim was holding near the steering wheel. The victim believed the suspect was attempting to steal his phone before exiting the vehicle,” the report said.
Two witnesses corroborate the driver’s story, with one claiming it was the same suspect previously on school property.
Fight the cops
Harasam reportedly fled the scene to board a King County subway bus. When the officers boarded the bus, the suspect allegedly tried to fight them.
As an officer “tried to handcuff LEBAN, LEBAN deliberately used his body and slammed [an officer’s] wrist in the window of the bus, causing significant pain and possible injury,” reads a third incident report.
This officer, according to a source, fractured his arm or wrist as a result.
After finally handcuffing Harasam and dragging him off the bus, “LIBAN was thrashing the whole time and yelling ‘you probably didn’t [sic] cause.'”
The incident report says it took four officers to restrain Harasam. Seattle Fire responded and medics “arrived to subdue him” due to his “erratic” behavior.
After the arrest, police said they found stolen items on Harasam, some of which were returned to their owners.
It could have been avoided
The alleged theft and assault of the van on officers could have been prevented had Principal Baileykaze cooperated with the police. Without a victim, it is difficult to establish probable cause for an arrest unless the officer witnessed the crime. This gave Harasam time to leave the scene and commit the other crimes.
Neither Baileykaze nor SPS spokespersons responded to multiple requests for comment made over the weekend.
The principal’s conduct, as portrayed in the incident, is deeply troubling. A number of officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, say it is common for Seattle Public School staff to block officers after an initial 911 call. It is not clear whether this is the result of an SPS policy requiring staff not to cooperate with the police or whether it is due to anti-police sentiment among SPS staff.
The suspect is charged
Police identify Harasam as a high user in the city of Seattle with multiple police contacts and arrests. Seattle’s new city attorney, Ann Davison, has identified dozens of heavy users responsible for a slew of local crimes. These cases are prioritized in his office to keep these suspects from ending up on the streets.
According to court documents, Harasam faces charges of first-degree criminal trespassing, two counts of assault, prowling a vehicle and resisting arrest.
His bail was set at $10,000 and court records show he refused to attend his arraignment. Harasam has a skills assessment hearing on Monday, June 6
Harasam was previously cited for assault in May 2020, but under former city attorney Pete Holmes, the city did not press charges.
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