Seattle Police offer Capitol Hill LGBTQ venues ‘active shooter’ training ahead of Pride

As Seattle Pride participants put the finishing touches on their floats and costumes, a more somber preparation for this year’s celebration will also be underway. City officials are encouraging LGBTQ venue owners, bouncers, and event planners to attend a training next week in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 50 people dead.

Seattle Police will hold two trainings at the The Cloud Room coworking space at 11th and Pike after Seattle’s Office of Film and Music rushed to organize the events before Pride next weekend.

“We want everyone to be as prepared and as safe as they can be, and hopefully nobody has to use it,” said OFM director Kate Becker.

Becker said LGBTQ nightlife personnel were specifically invited to attend, but the trainings are open to all nightlife owners. According the OFM, “the trainings will outline strategies and cover best practices to help individuals working in nightclubs, music venues, bars, and at large-scale events, learn how to protect themselves, their staff, and their patrons, from potentially deadly acts of gun violence.” The trainings, which have special focuses for indoor and outdoor venues, are free but registration is required.

Active Shooter Training for Nightlife Professionals — Monday, June 20
This event is geared towards nightlife professionals working in dance clubs, bars, and indoor music venues.

Active Shooter Training for Event Professionals –Tuesday, June 21
This event is geared towards Event Professionals working in large-scale, outdoor events that draw large crowds.

Sadly, increasingly more Seattle venue owners have been participating in active shooter trainings. SPD SWAT officer Jeff Geoghagan, the instructor for next week’s trainings, recently hosted “Safety in the Arts: Active Shooter Training” at the Moore Theatre. Concern for venue owners was especially heightened following the November attacks at a Paris nightclub. Geoghagan is a SPD sniper who was one of two officers that fired on Joel Reuter in 2013 following an eight-hour standoff on Capitol Hill.

Some Pike/Pine owners have already taken extra precautions for this year’s Pride. Wildrose owner Shelley Brothers will have metal detectors at the door of her longtime lesbian bar.

Still, this years’s Pride should be one of defiant celebration, said Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen. “Capitol Hill is going to be a blast. Nobody is going to scare us away,” Hansen said. “Donald Trump wins if we don’t have fun.”

The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce will host a more general public safety meeting on Monday with Mayor Ed Murray. The meeting had been on the books for weeks, Hansen said, and will focus on larger public safety issues. Business owners and residents are invited to attend the Poquitos happy hour meeting on Monday from 5 to 7 PM.

Even before heightened security became an issue because of the Orlando shooting, city officials denied the permit for a second day of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, saying SPD did not have the resources to adequately cover the event. Organizers are now planning to hold a sidewalk festival for Pride Sunday.

Vigils and public displays of solidarity with Orlando’s LGBTQ community are continuing through the week after thousands gathered in Cal Anderson Park on Sunday. Ed Murray, Seattle’s first openly gay mayor, addressed the crowd and struck a defiant tone. “We will, as we have in the past, face this fear,” Murray said. “We will not be intimidated.”

Vigil in Cal Anderson after worst mass shooting in U.S. history at Orlando gay club

At 7:30 PM on Wednesday, St. Marks Cathedral will toll its bell for those killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting as part of an interfaith prayer vigil. Attendees will then march to First Hill’s St. James Cathedral at 9th and Marion. Neumos and Jetspace Magazine will host a dance party and benefit on June 22nd for Equality Florida’s fund supporting the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Other area businesses are organizing fundraisers to help support Orlando survivors and families.

Meanwhile, in a statement from its Seattle field office, the FBI said Wednesday “there is no indication of an elevated risk to Washington residents at this time.”

The FBI is actively assessing intelligence and at this time has no information indicating specific and credible threats to any segment of our community. The FBI has reviewed several reports of threatening comments and worked with law enforcement partners to evaluate them. The FBI asks the public to continue to report any and all suspicious activity to law enforcement, but currently there is no indication of an elevated risk to Washington residents at this time.

The FBI continually assesses the full spectrum of potential threats that come to our attention and works with law enforcement partners to address them, if needed. Our intelligence and investigative resources are actively engaged throughout the entire year. After a major incident elsewhere in the nation or before a major event in Seattle, the FBI continues this routine, already active posture. Similarly, the FBI is always ready to augment local and state resources if a situation develops that requires additional intelligence analysis, manpower, or specialized capabilities.

In the last four days, the FBI has evaluated and coordinated with partners on three reported threats, and not found reason to suggest a pending physical threat:

  • The FBI is working with the Redmond Police Department to investigate telephonic remarks regarding a threat to the Muslim Association of Puget Sound in Redmond.
  • The FBI is working with the Seattle Police Department to investigate remarks by a North Seattle man who made online remarks threatening a North Seattle mosque. SPD arrested the individual shortly before 3:30 pmon Tuesday, June 14.
  • The FBI interviewed a Spokane resident who posted threatening language online regarding LGBT-focused bars in Seattle and Tacoma.

(Given the ongoing nature of these investigations, there is no further information that can be provided at this time.)

In addition to working with our local, state and, federal law enforcement partners, the FBI is actively communicating with leaders in LGBTQ and Muslim communities organizations. The FBI values partnerships with all Washington communities and will continue to engage them in discussions about their safety concerns.

“As always, the FBI Seattle Division will work with our law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention,” said the FBI Seattle Division’s Special Agent in Charge Frank Montoya, Jr.

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