According to Seattle Police, shortly before 9:00 pm, officers responded to reports of a shooting in the 9200 block of Rainier Avenue South.
Officers located multiple victims in and around the Safeway and provided life-saving measures until Seattle Fire Department personnel arrived.
Two victims, a female, and a male, both in their 20s, were transported in critical condition to Harborview Medical Center. Two other males, also in their 20s, were transported to Harborview in stable condition. An additional male in his 30s was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said during an onsite press conference that the shooting began in the parking lot of 9232 Rainier Avenue South, formerly King Donuts, which has been closed for some time. According to Diaz, numerous shell casings were found at the scene.
Police reported that all of the victims were attending the community outreach event and that two of the victims were a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County staff.
The “Safe Passage Team” had erected tents in the parking lot of the Safeway for the event. Jayme Hommer, the chief development officer for Boys and Girls Clubs of King County, told the Seattle Times that the group provides “…hot meals and resources to community members” and creates “…a safe space for grieving, healing, and connection in response to community violence.”
Officials at Harborview said that two of the five injured were discharged. A 24-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man have been upgraded to satisfactory condition. One was treated at the scene and released.
The circumstances that led up to the shooting are unknown at this time and authorities have not identified any suspects but believe there were two shooters.
The area has been a hotbed of criminal activity for years. According to The Seattle Times, there were two lawsuits filed earlier this year by the family of a bystander, Christopher Wilson, 35, who was killed in a 2020 shooting.
According to the suit, Safeway and an adjacent liquor store attract loitering crowds and have been witness to “scores of crimes, including assaults, shootings, murders, prowls, robberies, theft and intoxication.”
The lawsuits allege that in 2020, the Seattle Police Department “…formally identified the area surrounding the liquor store as host to a history of public safety issues constituting ‘chronic illegal activity.'” In 2029, officers were dispatched 89 times as a result of “multiple shootings, numerous assaults and fights” and liquor violations.
Earlier this month, three men in their 20s were shot a few blocks away from Friday's tragedy and still no arrests have been made.
Violence and homicides continue to spike in Seattle since the city council defunded the police department leading to the exodus of nearly 600 officers. A new report revealed last week that the number of homicides in Seattle has continued to climb in 2023 even as they declined in other cities.
Last weekend, 3 people were injured and a woman was killed during an illegal street racing event on Capitol Hill. Police responded to the race but were outnumbered and forced to retreat before the shooting. Another person was stabbed at a light rail station near Friday's shooting. Seattle Police Officer Guild (SPOG) president Mike Solan said last week, “Despite the hard work all of us are continuing to do, today patrol operations is dangerously close to being 50 percent down from minimum safe staffing levels.”
The Safeway is near the homes of Seattle Democratic Mayor Bruce Harrell and Socialist City Council Member Tammy Morales.
Harrell, who has failed to deliver on his promise to recruit more officers, called the shootings “appalling and unacceptable” in a post on Twitter adding, “There are too many guns in hands where they do not belong, and we can never accept this violence as a normal fact of life.”
Morales, whose district includes the site of the shooting, and advocated for the defunding, said in a statement, “I am in conversation with Mayor Harrell, the Police Department, and the community leaders of our violence prevention networks in Rainier Beach as we respond to this horrific night.”
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