Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Perpetrators of Assault on Uber Driver May Be SU Students


A group of three people assaulted and attempted to rob an Uber driver on April 1 at the intersection of 11th and Madison. All three subjects were traced on security footage to Vi Hilbert Hall as they fled, where a student ID was used to swipe into the building, according to a police report obtained by The Spectator.

The assault occurred around 8 p.m. after an argument between the three people and their driver, who would not drive to a new drop-off location without the riders updating the app. The three riders, reportedly under the influence of alcohol, verbally harassed the driver when she would not change the destination. One passenger pulled on the driver’s head scarf and another unsuccessfully attempted to punch the driver and steal her phone.


The driver was not injured and called 911 while the passengers quickly exited the vehicle. She took a photo of one of the subjects’ backs as they ran away through campus.

Police were able to identify the apartment number associated with the key card used to swipe in to Vi Hilbert. When they arrived at the apartment, the occupant first admitted to being in an Uber with his friends during an incident but then backtracked and said he had only heard about an incident involving his friends.

Public Safety sent out a campus- wide timely warning notification at 9:59 p.m. on April 1. The email stated that “the victim was not injured and is not affiliated with Seattle University.” It did not, however, specify that one of the perpetrators may have entered Vi Hilbert and could be a resident—and therefore a Seattle U student.

Executive Director of Public Safety and Transportation Craig Birklid said that Public Safety chose to withhold that information because they thought sending it in an email could interfere with the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) investigation. Further, Birklid said that by the time Public Safety had traced the perpetrators to Vi Hilbert Hall, the subject who had swiped in had already gotten to his apartment.

“We were aware that a Seattle University student entered Vi Hilbert Hall, likely with that group,” Birklid said. “As far as we knew there was no additional threat from those individuals at the time, and to assist the furthering of that investigation, we didn’t share the details of exactly what we were aware of.”

While Public Safety notified Housing and Residence Life (HRL), this message never reached Resident Assistants (RAs) or the RAs On Duty. This is because HRL staff only notified who Public Safety explicitly told them to notify.

“In this case, there wasn’t a secondary level of notification to Vi Hilbert residents or [HRL] staff. There wasn’t any direction that way, so we followed suit,” Interim Director of HRL David Stephen said. “If we were to overstep and then unnecessarily stimulate the student population… Then we’re not serving them, and we’re not serving our campus partners who are on point.”

If there were a situation that would require something like a lockdown as a result of the subjects’ presence in Vi Hilbert Hall, Stephen said Public Safety would have sent out a general notification to the campus community at the time. He said, however, that this situation did not call for such action.

It is unclear if SPD advised Public Safety not to alert the campus community of the preliminary questioning conducted within Vi Hilbert Hall.

At this time, Public Safety has handed off the investigation to SPD, who assigned a detective to the case. As of April 9, Public Safety had not notified the university community that someone potentially involved with this attempted robbery entered a residence hall. HRL still has not notified RAs in Vi Hilbert Hall.

They are currently investigating the incident as an attempted strong- arm robbery. Given that a passenger pulled at the driver’s head scarf, this potentially constitutes an incident of bias, but according to the Seattle Police Department, the incident would nonetheless be investigated primarily as a robbery — just with a bias element.

Once the investigation closes, the police will send it to the Prosecutor’s Office. If Seattle Police identifies a Seattle U student as one of the perpetrators, the university will then pursue an internal investigation. The potential punishment for an attempted robbery like this could be a few months in prison, according to the King County sentencing guidelines.

This story was updated on April 10 to include additional details. It will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Josh may be reached at
[email protected]

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Josh Merchant, Investigative Editor

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