The crime has shocked the liberal city, where residents and city leaders adamantly pushed to defund the police earlier this year. Suggesting police be replaced by social workers in order to “de-escalate” situations instead of using force.
Just before 11 a.m. on November 23, a Seattle social worker was stabbed to death by one of her housing clients at Lewiston Apartments, a low-income housing facility operated by the Plymouth Housing Group.
Security footage shows a man walk into the building carrying grocery bags and then pull out a large knife. Carrying the weapon, he walked into the office of 42-year-old social worker Kristin Benson. A co-worker soon heard Benson screaming and she ran to help, identifying the attacker as 58-year-old Hans Dewey Van-Belkum, an eight-year resident of the building. The co-worker ran out of Benson’s office chased by the armed Van-Belkum toward her own office. Security footage shows him falling during the chase, getting up and then trying to break down her office door. When he could not get in, Van-Belkum returned to his attack on Benson.
Seattle police later found a note in his apartment that indicated he believed Benson was trying to have him evicted.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Raz wrote “The murder of Ms. Benson was horrifying, an unarmed victim, trapped in her own office, unable to escape or fight back against the defendant’s rage and blade. Equally terrifying was the defendant’s willingness to violently attack others who came to Ms. Benson’s assistance.”