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Witness statements about the shooting of two black teens on Monday at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP, formerly CHAZ) create a confusing picture that leaves more questions than answers.
In the early hours of Monday, an unknown number of armed "security" members of the so-called autonomous zone opened fire on a Jeep Cherokee SUV that had been circling the perimeter. The shooting left one 16-year-old dead, and a 14-year-old critically injured.
Before the age of the victims was known, CHOP residents claimed on camera to livestreamers present at the location that the teenagers had been performing drive-by shootings, and that the vehicle they were in was stolen. Witnesses also claimed that the vehicle's two occupants, whose identity and makeup were not known at the time, had assaulted and robbed someone while armed with knives.
Footage leading up to the incident does not corroborate these on-camera statements.
The only detail these witnesses were in agreement about was to state that CHOP "security" neutralized the vehicle, its driver, and passenger.
First details of the incident surfaced on Twitter through a user named "Malice Antifa Superstripper," who goes by @MaliceBD on the platform, who wrote:
"2 guys in a stolen SUV shot up #CHOP tonight. They came through and fired ~15 shots, then maybe 15 mins later, drove across Cal Anderson field and opened fire again... and got f***ing MURKED by security on the ground."
The poster included photos of the aftermath, which showed a vehicle badly damaged by gunfire and a bloodied interior.
Many Antifa members and supporters of the far-left movement bragged about the result, proclaiming it to be a victory against fascism.
On Monday morning, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best addressed the incident at a press conference in front of the abandoned East Precinct at the CHOP.
“We are not sure who shot at the car or why they shot at the car," Chief Best said. "Detectives are searching social media, hoping someone has information and will come forward."
"The typical things we search for in a case like this, in a shooting like this, weren’t there," she added. "It is abundantly clear to our detectives that people had been in and out of the car after the shooting. Detectives are trying to get in information from witnesses, but as has been the case in other crime scenes up in this area, people are not being cooperative with our requests for help.”
Chief Best was heckled by the crowd.
Details of the case do not corroborate witness statements that the two teenagers had been doing a drive-by shooting.
The windows of the vehicle were rolled up and shot out. There were no weapons in the vehicle, nor any mention of them by CHOP "medics" and "security" on site.
Questions mounted as video of the shooting was posted on social media.
Across multiple videos, the only sound of gunfire appears to come from a single weapon, presumably a a semi-automatic rifle. Twenty shots are fired. Shots from the weapon disabled the vehicle, penetrating the windscreen, shattering back and side windows, and took out the rear right tire.
Audio of the militants following the incident conveys malice rather than empathy for other CHOP occupants with statements such as “I’m sorry I ran out of bullets.”
In one video of the incident, the apparent shooter or bystander says, "Not dead, huh? You wanna get pistol whipped?" immediately after the barrage of gunfire.
Speculation and unsubstantiated claims by CHOP occupiers was once again enough for local elected officials capitalized on the tragedy to push their agenda before details of the two victims were even released.
Marxist Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant used the tragedy to blame capitalism and push her Amazon Tax and the defund/abolish police narrative even though police are still not allowed in the CHOP and the East Precinct is now occupied by CHOP leadership.
It's worth noting that the teenage victims were transported by CHOP “medics” in private vehicles because emergency services could not access the area.
Council President Lorena Gonzalez tweeted out a narrative about gun violence.
A Seattle Times interview with Sawant did not push back on the City Council President for the fact that in 2019 there were 18 fatal shootings in all of Seattle and that this week alone there have already been 4 shooting incidents with 2 fatalities in the six block area of the CHOP.
As more details became available such as the age of the victims, the stories began to change. The SUV was allegedly doing doughnuts in the nearby field at Cal Anderson Park before the incident. There may have been different vehicles present in the area. They may have been throwing fire crackers.
In the prior shooting last weekend, occupiers in the CHOP blamed “white supremacists” even though CHOP representatives blamed gang violence. These statements were echoed by Council Member Sawant.
Facing growing violence, multiple lawsuits, and growing local and national criticism, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced last week that the CHOP would be dismantled over the weekend. She failed to do so.
After protesters prevented crews from removing the barriers on Friday, the CHOP still remained intact on Monday.
As of press time, the Mayor has yet to make a statement of any kind regarding the shooting or release a formal plan for dismantling the CHOP but has proposed a $20,000,000 cut to the Seattle Police budget while residents and businesses beg for order to be restored in Capitol Hill.