A brutal broad daylight triple-stabbing on a downtown Seattle street Tuesday leaves anti-gun city leaders and Washington state’s billionaire-backed—and Seattle-based—gun prohibition lobbying group in a quandary.
They can’t call it “gun violence.” They can’t blame the National Rifle Association, or use it in one of their weekly fund-raising email blasts. They certainly can’t exploit it to push yet another gun control initiative, penalizing the Evergreen State’s 1.5-2 million law-abiding gun owners for something they didn’t do. City officials can’t use the incident to demand tougher gun laws from the Legislature in Olympia.
Thanks to an investigation by KIRO News, the local CBS affiliate, the background of 29-year-old suspect Christopher Russell Morisette is now revealed.
According to KIRO, Morisette “has a history of random victims.” He’s also got a history with the state Department of Corrections, which has classified the now-jailed suspect as a violent offender. He has a criminal background in several western Washington communities, including Bellingham, Blaine, Sedro-Woolley and most recently in King County, which encompasses Seattle. His prior offenses include assault, burglary, theft, trespassing, malicious mischief and felony car prowling, KIRO noted.
In one incident uncovered by KIRO, Morisette “tried to enter a South Seattle woman’s home after she opened her basement door. As she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, Morisette turned the doorknob…Police arrived within two minutes and found Morisette armed with two BB guns tucked into his waistband. Officers described Morisette as belligerent, uncooperative and angry.”
Had he reached for one of those BB guns—which are pretty hard to tell from a real firearm, depending upon the BB gun model—he might have been justifiably shot under the state use-of-force statute.
He also has a history of mental health problems including a commitment to Western State Hospital in august 2017 followed by release in October “after being sentenced in Mental Health Court.”
Last November, while he was at Swedish Hospital for “an involuntary mental evaluation,” he reportedly “tried to fight” with another patient.
After Tuesday’s stabbing incident, which sent two older men to the hospital, Seattle police found the suspect several blocks away, stripped naked. He had apparently stabbed himself in the chest, and then stabbed one man walking down the street, then stabbed a second man in the neck and finally attacked a third man with a stab wound to the back. He then allegedly tossed the knife into a FedEx truck.
Another revelation from KIRO was that after his troubles last November, the Seattle City Attorney recommended 90 days in jail and 24 months on probation. Judge pro-tem Mary Lynch sentenced him to 45 days in jail, including credit for 18 days already served, and he was to receive mental health and chemical dependency treatment.
He was, said KIRO, ordered to stay away from drugs, alcohol and weapons.
Today in King County, according to the state Department of Licensing, almost 20 percent of the state’s legally-licensed armed citizens reside. As of July 1, there were just over 100,000 active concealed pistol licenses in King County. Statewide, DOl says there are more than 622,000 active CPLs. In the event the suspect had attacked one of these armed citizens with the folding knife pictured by the Seattle Police, he might have legally been shot under the provisions of this statute.
There are no background checks or waiting periods for knife purchases, and nobody will call Tuesday’s attack “knife violence.”
But the suspect’s possession and use of a knife underscores something that Second Amendment activists have long reminded the press and politicians about, with very little success. Criminals do not obey the law, and trying to solve a violent crime problem by penalizing citizens who haven’t committed any violent crimes is not the solution.