Teen arrested in connection with brutal attack

  • Katherine Schiffner<br>For the Enterprise
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 7:32am

EDMONDS – Police have arrested an Edmonds teenager in connection with a road-rage attack that left Richard Alseth struggling to survive.

A tip led police to the boy, 17, hours after Alseth’s family pleaded for help in finding the person who beat the former assistant principal unconscious Dec. 6.

Police arrested the boy on suspicion of first-degree assault about 10:20 p.m. Dec. 7 at the boy’s Edmonds home.

The teenager, a senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School, allegedly attacked Alseth, 64, of Edmonds, after the two nearly got into a traffic accident, police said.

Alseth was backing out of his sister-in-law’s driveway in the 9500 block of 224th Street SW in Edmonds about 6:15 p.m. Monday when he accidentally pulled in front of the Jeep Cherokee the boy was driving.

The boy braked hard to avoid a crash, then got out and began screaming at Alseth, according to an affidavit filed in Snohomish County Juvenile Court.

When Alseth got out of his car, the teenager allegedly pummeled him, a witness told police.

Alseth put up his hands to shield himself and the boy “grabbed (Alseth’s) arms and pulled them down to his stomach,” and hit Alseth again, court documents say.

The attack ended after the boy allegedly grabbed Alseth’s neck and kneed him in the face, court documents say. One of the passengers in the Jeep also got out and yelled at the teenager to leave, police said.

The Jeep left. Alseth was left laying in the street with life-threatening head injuries, police said.

The blows caused swelling on both sides of his brain, and he was in serious condition Wednesday night in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

He was breathing on his own, but “there’s still some uncertainties” about his recovery, a relative said.

Alseth’s family expected him to suffer long-term effects from the assault, his son Steve Alseth said Tuesday.

A witness provided a rough description of the assailant and the car, but police had few leads until they received a tip from a woman who knew one of the passengers.

She called at 4 p.m. Tuesday, two hours after Alseth’s family urged anyone with information about the attack to come forward.

“Had we not received some information, the chances of finding the suspect were probably very slim,” Edmonds Sgt. Jeff Jones said.

The woman’s tip led police to the two passengers in the car and to the alleged driver.

A search of the boy’s home turned up a blood-spattered sweatshirt and investigators noticed the boy’s knuckles appeared to be scraped, court documents say.

The teenager was booked into the Denney Youth Center, where he’s being held on $150,000 bail.

The teen may be charged as an adult if prosecutors elect to file first-degree assault charges, said Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Dave Kurtz, head of the county’s juvenile court division.

The teenager apparently did not know Alseth, who worked in the Edmonds School District for 30 years, police said.

Alseth retired in June 1999 as the assistant principal at College Place Middle School, three months before the teenager started seventh grade there, Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Jakala said.

Even though he was retired, Richard Alseth continued to volunteer at the Edmonds High School stadium, working the concession stand and assisting at events.

Counselors were available Wednesday at College Place and other schools in the district, Jakala said.

Katherine Schiffner writes for The Herald in Everett.

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