Bellevue police have arrested 23 people and identified almost 100 additional suspects in taking merchandise from Bellevue Square Mall that occurred while a protest was taking place on May 31.
“The widespread violence we witnessed on May 31 has absolutely no connection to the many lawful protests we have witnessed in Bellevue since George Floyd’s homicide. We all should be repulsed that any individual or group would exploit a tragic event like Floyd’s death,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett stated at a press conference.
In one arrest, a 26-year-old suspect from Renton was found to be in possession of firearms, methamphetamine and other drugs, as well $19,000 worth of clothing, alcohol and tobacco that police claim to have been stolen during the looting. In total police say they’ve recovered $50,000 in merchandise.
Along with what was believed to be stolen, officers found an AK-47 assault rifle with a silencer, a 10 mm glock handgun, heroin, cocaine and other drug paraphernalia that Mylett stated is consistent with selling and distribution of narcotics.
Mylett said they don’t know yet if the Renton man arrested had any connection to planned or organized looting on that day. He said there were likely some who planned to enter Bellevue Square and some who took advantage of the opportunity to take items from the stores. He estimates between 1,000 to 2,000 people involved, mostly from greater Seattle region.
When asked at the press conference about the perception that Bellevue police allowed the looting to occur, Mylett said the police department’s priority was to prevent death, serious injury and arson.
Mylett said they are just getting started, and that this will be a long process where they will “stick with it” in prosecuting those who took merchandise.
“The business owners and downtown residents deserve it. They were victimized that day,” Mylett said.
Bellevue police say they will be contacting the other identified suspects soon, which was found with the assistance of 10,000 pieces of video and photographic evidence submitted by the public. The 26-year-old arrested in Renton was identified through a photograph that a downtown Bellevue resident took of him in his car near d’Original Jewelers, Mylett said.