Last Thursday, Bellevue Police Detectives arrested a man who sexually assaulted a passenger in his ride-sharing vehicle after he gave her a ride. The man, 34-year-old Ghassan Shakir, is a suspect in several other similar crimes in the Seattle area. On January 20th, 2019 shortly after 2 a.m., an Arizona woman was visiting Bellevue and was standing outside of a bar in the downtown area waiting for a ride-share to take her back to her hotel in Seattle. The victim accidentally got into the suspect’s vehicle, which displayed a ride-share symbol on its dashboard, and fell asleep. When the victim awoke, the suspect was attempting to sexually assault her. The suspect allegedly put handcuffs on the woman, however the victim was able to fight and the suspect eventually took the handcuffs off, allowing the victim to escape. The victim reported the incident to police.
Bellevue Detectives began working the case immediately following the incident, and were notified by the King County Prosecutor’s Office that the King County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a rape case that occurred in March involving a similar circumstance. Bellevue Detectives worked closely with investigators from the King County Sheriff’s Office-and were eventually able to identify the suspect vehicle. Investigators impounded the vehicle, which was searched pursuant to a warrant. During the search, handcuffs were located as well as other evidence in the vehicle that tied the suspect to both cases. The suspect was arrested last Wednesday and booked into the King County Jail. Investigators later learned of similar crimes in Kirkland and SeaTac in March, and in Seattle last December. Bellevue Detectives are now working closely with investigators from those agencies.
After the arrest, Detectives learned that the suspect had been a driver on the Uber and Lyft platforms, and was driving a vehicle displaying placards from both companies. The suspect is alleged to have been offering his victims rides “off app”, to avoid being tracked. Police believe there may be other victims, and are urging anyone that believes they may have been targeted by the suspect to report the incident to police
Bellevue Police and the King County Sheriff’s Office urge members of the public to use the following ride-share safety tips:
- Verify the license plate of the vehicle you are getting into is the same as the car on your app. Many ride-sharing vehicles are similar.
- Ask “What’s my name?” Verify that the driver picking you up knows your name and is in fact the driver you have called.
- Never get into a vehicle with an unknown driver.
- Never accept rides from someone claiming to be a ride-share driver if you haven’t ordered their specific vehicle through the app.
- Report any unacceptable behavior to the ride-share company and the police.