As Bellevue continues to grow, like much of the Eastside, the community saw significant news throughout 2018, including innovation, crime and expansion.
Residents were tested in their unity when the community’s diversity was challenged with hateful messages, and their faith in the rule of law was tested and restored as their embattled police chief overcame false allegations.
While this list is in no way intended to be comprehensive, the Reporter is taking a moment to look back on what we feel were some of the biggest stories of 2018.
$10K reward for information on 70-firearm robbery: On Dec. 26, 2017, 70 firearms were stolen during the robbery of West Coast Armory, a gun shop and shooting range in Bellevue. Three suspects wearing hooded sweatshirts and jackets with face coverings backed a stolen car through the front of the business at about 3 a.m. The majority of the firearms were handguns. Police later recovered the vehicle and offered a reward for suspect information.
Bellevue man charged for torturing, raping, killing Seattle woman: A 23-year-old man was arrested and charged after allegedly raping, murdering and setting fire to a 63-year-old Seattle woman. Charging documents had gruesome details of the events leading to the woman’s death. The suspect was arrested following two, separate interactions with the police after the murder.
Fire damages mosque … again: For the second time in little more than a year, Bellevue firefighters were called to battle a blaze at the Islamic Center of Eastside in Bellevue. Investigators said they didn’t believe the second fire was a hate crime. An 18-year-old male suspect was arrested and charged. The mosque was first set on fire in January 2017. More recently, the mosque has begun the process to rebuild the facility.
Eastside homeless shelter for women and families scheduled to break ground 2019: A 100-bed shelter for homeless women and families was approved to serve the Eastside. Partnering to help build the Kirkland facility, which will serve the entire Eastside population, was the city of Bellevue, the city of Kirkland, and several Eastside agencies.
Construction starts for $250M Overlake expansion: Touted as Overlake Medical Center’s largest expansion in its 58-year history, stakeholders met on May 9 for a ground breaking ceremony for Project FutureCare, a $250 million undertaking to build out the hospital and upgrade existing facilities. The Capstone project is a new 240,000-square-foot, five-story tower with modern single-patient rooms. The three-phase project is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
Neo-Nazis distribute fliers around Bellevue: Fliers with candy were posted in neighborhoods throughout Bellevue encouraging residents to report “undocumented immigrants” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The fliers included a hate group’s emblem. Police recommended residents collect and throw the fliers in the trash or recycling. Similar fliers returned later in the year and drew the contempt of residents and city officials who encouraged unity and diversity.
Self-driving vanpools coming to the Eastside: The vans, according to the July 6 issue of the Reporter, could hit the streets this spring. Bellevue and Kirkland submitted a grant application requesting $3 million to fund the $9 million project. Commuters could schedule their pickup times through an app being developed by Amazon, the story noted.
Man arrested after two dozen dumpster fires in cities: A 56-year-old homeless man set fire to some 22-24 dumpsters in mid-August. The dumpsters were in Bellevue and Redmond. Officers canvased the area for more fires and witnesses. A witness pointed out the suspect in a wooded area nearby.
New bus paddle cameras to ensure student safety: This story was on the inside pages. It’s the only inside story that made this list. While big news happened throughout the month of September, the biggest stories were countywide (a standoff on state Route 520, state gas tax replacement presentation to the city council). Meanwhile, the Bellevue School District installed several cameras to its buses to nab drivers who ignore the stop signs. The cameras can help with driver education and hopefully will increase safety for Bellevue students.
Police chief exonerated following investigation: Following an investigation led by the Bothell Police Department, Bellevue’s Police Chief Steve Mylett was exonerated of rape allegations. A week earlier, a former officer of the Bellevue Police Department was exonerated of similar allegations. Investigators noted that the accuser had fabricated evidence.
Hundreds gather in support of Mueller investigation in downtown Bellevue: Election results would have been a good choice for November’s story of the month. Instead, we’ve selected a story that showed residents taking part in demonstrations held nationwide. More than 400 people gathered at Bellevue’s Downtown Park on Nov. 8 rallying in support of U.S. Special Investigator Robert Mueller after President Donald Trump asked then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign. Mueller is investigating accusations of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the investigation, a decision that had long been criticized by the president.
Charge follows false allegation against police chief: The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged the woman who made false sexual assault allegations against Chief Mylett with two counts of malicious prosecution, and two counts of tampering with physical evidence.