Bizarre standoff at 7-Eleven ends peacefully

Update 11:45 a.m: A man with a “very realistic looking Airsoft gun” walked into the 7-Eleven on Leary Way on Saturday night, sparking a strange standoff that closed Leary Way and ended with the suspect in custody.

It began just before 11 p.m. “I was in there and he was chugging a beer and then poured half of it on his head,” says a witness in comments below. “I payed for my stuff and left, and started walking out and he put a gun on top of his head. At that point I left and the first cop was pulling in.” Fortunately, employees and customers were able to escape as police surrounded the building.

A SWAT team and negotiator were called, and they watched as the man danced around the store, cleaning and exercising (some of which we observed from our vantage point nearby). “We’d like you to come out so we can be sure you’re OK,” the negotiator said over the loudspeaker “It’s a little unusual for you to be inside a 7-Eleven by yourself, doing exercises and calisthenics.”

In between the activity, the man would sit on the floor as the negotiator tried repeatedly to convince the man to listen to him. At one point, SWAT set off a flash-bang to get the man’s attention.

Finally, at 1:40 a.m., the man put on his jacket and exited the store with his arms in the air, where he was met with a SWAT team at gunpoint. Police say “a very realistic looking Airsoft gun was in a holster on the suspect’s belt.” The suspect was transported to a hospital for a mental evaluation, and he’ll be booked in jail upon his release. (Thanks Silver for alerting us to the story!)

City to fine homeowner for tree removal

Tree removal crews cut down a large Monkey Puzzle tree at the corner of NW 60th and 9th Ave. last week. Today, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development tells My Ballard that they’re preparing to fine the homeowners for removing an “exceptional tree” without a permit.

An exceptional tree is defined “by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural or historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees,” explains the city rule (.pdf). In this case, a Monkey Puzzle tree is exceptional if it measures over 1 foot 10 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground.

“We’re anticipating a violation,” said Alan Justad, Deputy Director of DPD, explaining that the removal required a permit. “They needed to go through the approval process.” Justad says the fine will be based on the estimated market value of the tree, which he expects may total “several thousand dollars” for a tree that size, although the final amount is still being calculated. Fines also typically involve a restoration requirement, he said.

Some neighbors were disappointed in the new homeowner’s decision to take down one of the largest Monkey Puzzle trees in the city, while others supported the move, explaining the tree was in danger of damaging the house.

Get a Coke at Dick’s for a dime on Friday

Dick’s Drive-In is celebrating its 56th anniversary today, and as part of the festivities, they will be selling Cokes for the same price as when they first opening in 1954 – 10 cents a pop!

The five locations throughout the city, including the Dick’s on Holman Road (9208 Holman Road NW), are open from 10:30 a.m. every morning to 2 a.m. the next day – plenty of time to get a 10-cent Coke or two! The other locations are in Wallingford, at 111 NE 45th St, Capitol Hill, at 115 Broadway Ave. E, Queen Anne, at 500 Queen Anne Ave. N., and Lake City, at 12325 30th Ave North.

This is not the first time Dick’s has made their already inexpensive menu even more affordable for a day. On Veteran’s Day Dick’s gave away free cheeseburgers to vets. To read the full story on the Dick’s anniversary, check out Casey McNerthney’s story.

Security camera catches thief in the act

A Ballardite who recently had packages stolen off their front porch sent us this email:

Our security camera recorded a woman stealing two packages off our front porch this past Tuesday. I’ve filed a police report but thought that it would be best to share the video as well. Here are some details:
– UPS delivered the packages at 2:25 PM, and the theft occurred at 2:43 PM, so the thief might have been trailing the delivery truck.
– The young woman in the video appears to be around 5’1″ to 5’3″ tall and took off in what appears to be a blue ’85-’89 Mazda 323 hatchback.

Package theft on 1/26 in Ballard from seattle vimeo user on Vimeo.

They got the motion-sensing camera last summer after they were hit last March while living in a different neighborhood. “I’m not a proponent of having cameras everywhere, but a camera aimed at our own porch/mailbox/entrance and part of our driveway seems reasonable to me.” (The person who emailed this to us asked that we not reveal the location of their home.)

Value Village relocating, Grocery Outlet moving in

People have been emailing us wondering what is going at the old QFC location at the corner of 15th Ave NW and NW 85th St.

Workers are busy transforming the old grocery store into a new Value Village. Daniel snapped the above photo with his Blackberry before the sign was covered up with plastic.

Meanwhile, Grocery Outlet is planning to move into the location that is currently Value Village (8700 15th Ave NW.) We spoke with Peyton Robertson with Grocery Outlet who tells us they plan to have their new location open the beginning of May “provided that construction goes as planned,” she tells us.

Free tax help at the Ballard library starting Monday

You still have a couple of months left but tax time is quickly creeping up around the corner. For those who need help filing their taxes, The Seattle Public Library, United Way of King County and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are offering free tax preparation services at eleven Seattle library branches. Trained volunteers will be available to answer questions and help prepare personal tax returns. Business tax returns are not eligible for the free service.

Help will be available at the Ballard Library (5614 22nd Ave NW) starting Monday, Feb. 1 through Thursday, Apr. 15 on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For a complete list of times and library branch locations, click here.

Free Deathcake Royale tasting Thursday

Deathcake Royale, a sinfully chocolaty Valentine’s treat is coming back to Cupcake Royale starting tomorrow through February 14th. Tonight you can get a preview taste for free! The chocolaty treat is described as, “death-by-chocolate meets Cupcake Royale” with dark chocolate ganache, chocolate cake royale, Stumptown espresso ganache, and Theo Chocolate decadence.

The free samples and Stumptown coffee pairing is Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at all four Cupcake Royales, including the one at 2052 NW Market St.

City looking for clues about mystery plaque

The city is looking for information about a mysterious memorial plaque that’s on the bench outside Tully’s on the corner of NW Market St and 22nd Ave NW. The business wants the bench removed but no one seems to know where the plaque on the bench came from.

A sign that was taped on the bench by the Seattle Department of Transportation reads:

“This memorial plaque was placed without the knowledge of the city. The adjacent business is concerned about misuse of the bench and asked for it to be removed. SDOT is seeking information on the origin of the plaque prior to removing or relocating the bench. Please contact SDOT at (206) 684-8501 or”

The memorial plaque is for Edwin K. Davis 3-9-28 to 9-3-88. Marybeth Turner from SDOT tells us, “The bench was installed in 1989 with a permit approved by the Board of Public Works, but we don’t have a record of the memorial plaque. At this point we are looking for information about the plaque, and have not yet made a decision about the bench.”

Updated: Tully’s returned our call. We spoke with Scott Earle, the VP of Marketing, who tells us that the bench was originally placed about 12 to 15 feet from the door and somewhere along the line it was moved within inches of their front door and bolted down. He says that people sit and smoke on the bench all day, breaking the smoking ordinance in the city. “As you can imagine, we get a lot of people complaining,” Earle says, “It’s as if people are smoking inside the store.”

Earle tells us that Tully’s has asked the city to move the bench to either its original location or to an other location. Before doing so, the city is trying to track down information on the origin of the memorial.

Taproot Theatre opens 2010 season at home

Just three months after an arson fire gutted the Eleanor Roosevelt Building, home to Taproot Theatre, the first show of the 2010 season will be held in the old playhouse.

The opening night for C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” is tomorrow night in their old space at 204 N. 85th St. At first, Taproot was told that it would take four months to renovate the building, but they were determined to open their 2010 season at home so they came up with a modified plan which rebuilt the public areas first. “They’ve (the workers) been working 10 hours a day, six days a week, to make it happen,” Scott Nolte, co-founder of Taproot Theatre and director of the upcoming “The Great Divorce” told PhinneyWood. “There’s been a lot of work to do, and some moments it looked like it might not happen, but here we are, days before opening.”

PhinneyWood has all the details of “The Great Divorce,” the rebuilding and the community support.