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Seattle dad, son: We released suspect who set fire in our shop to threatening protesters — and cops didn't respond to 19 calls for help

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Mob rules again

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

John McDermott is owner of Car Tender auto shop in Seattle's Capitol Hill — and it's located just outside the "autonomous zone" George Floyd protesters took over last week.

But being outside the infamously lawless area didn't keep his business safe enough Sunday night when he said a suspect smashed a window and broke into their shop and tried to start a fire on the front counter, KIRO-TV reported.

What happened next?

McDermott and his son Mason told the station the suspect doused the counter with hand sanitizer and then lit it on fire, and the pair were able to quickly extinguish it.

Then Mason McDermott said he saw the suspect running from the building — and he ran after him, KIRO noted.

"I chased him down, and as soon as I came face to face with him, he came at me so I put him on the ground," he recounted to the station, adding that he had the suspect pinned while his dad repeatedly called 911.

Image source: KIRO-TV video screenshot

"At some point he tried to cut me with a box cutter," Mason McDermott told KIRO, noting large rips in his jeans.

Image source: KIRO-TV video screenshot

In addition to starting a fire, the suspect allegedly stole cash and car keys, the station added.

But where were police?

John McDermott noted to the station that he made 19 calls for help before authorities "finally said that they weren't gonna send somebody."

"I don't know what to expect next," he told KIRO. "If you can't call the police department, you can't call the fire department to respond, what do you have?"

Image source: KIRO-TV video screenshot

The elder McDermott added with a choked-up voice to the station that he's "heartbroken" authorities didn't show up.

"I mean, they are the cavalry," John McDermott said.

And without police on the scene, protesters were in charge — and McDermott told KIRO they demanded that he and his son let the suspect go.

John McDermott noted to the station that he and his son had no choice but to comply.

"It was either that, or they were coming over and it was going to turn into mayhem beyond mayhem," he said.

As it turns out, protesters broke down the fence bordering their business and charged into the lot anyway — right up to John McDermott's face.

Image source: Twitter video screenshot

Some protesters tried to calm down their comrades, and there were no apparent physical altercations in the aftermath.

The following tweet shows the moment the fence went down, but the user got the name of the business wrong — and apparently its location. (Content warning: Language):

Here's another clip of the fence being pushed down. (Content warning: Language):

CHAZ protester broke into a nearby Car Tender auto shop and tried to set the building on fire youtu.be

John McDermott told KIRO that protesters were armed — but so was his son, adding that they never pointed any firearms at the suspect they detained or at the protesters and are glad no one got seriously hurt.

Image source: KIRO-TV video screenshot

"It could've really gotten out of hand," he told the station.

'My heart is sad with all these people'

As he and his father agree with the core of the protests, Mason McDermott told KIRO that "my heart is sad with all these people. I think there's a problem that needs to be addressed."

But he's not happy about what the protesters did — and he's had it with the lack of action from law enforcement and elected officials.

"Nobody shows up when literally our lives are on the line," Mason McDermott told the station. "I think our mayor and governor need to get their act together, they need to come up with a plan — because this is beyond a protest."

What did police have to say?

Seattle police told KIRO that they "did respond to the incident last night and documented the incident on a report. The case number is #2020-188030. Due to limited staffing, we are unable to provide you with a redacted copy of the narrative."

But John McDermott noted to the station that he never spoke with nor saw an officer — and others at the scene corroborated that.

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins stopped by the business late Monday morning to speak with McDermott and told KIRO firefighters need police clearance to respond inside the autonomous zone but not outside of it — as Car Tender is — and that he's investigating why no one responded.

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