Neighbors are pushing for more to be done by police in the Central District following Friday’s murder of Marshall Bennett after the 38-year-old was gunned down at his 25th Ave S residence in continuing gang violence and what police say are personal vendettas driving an ongoing wave of shootings.
Bennett is being remembered by family and residents of the area who knew him as a neighbor and a man who had lived through serious run-ins with the law while paying a major price along the way. When he was convicted of drug charges in 2013 after being arrested with crack cocaine after a fight in a Capitol Hill alley, prosecutors said Bennett had already served more than a decade in jail for a 2001 robbery conviction. Bennett was sentenced to 13 more months in jail in the 2013 case. This summer, Bennett was released from jail in July after being jailed during another drug investigation, according to King County Superior Court records.
Friday’s homicide remains unsolved and detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying a green sedan seen fleeing the area following the shooting. You can call (206) 233-5000 if you have any information that might help.
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The wave of gun violence comes as Seattle continues to wrestle with how best to address historical and ongoing social inequity, gentrification in areas like the Central District, ongoing impacts from the “war on drugs,” and youth justice. Those issues continue to play out over months and years and progress, if there is any, is slow. SPD’s strategy is focused on the here and now.
In response to messages from concerned residents and groups, SPD has released a document outlining its response to the violence including more SWAT officers on the streets and outreach to civilian representatives SPD calls “violence interrupters” —
Following the shooting/homicide in the area on September 14th, 2018, the East Precinct, along with several specialty units, have further increased both on-duty and overtime officer presence in the area. The investigation is underway, with early indications that this incident is part of the on-going group conflict. Additionally, community-based “violence interrupters” were notified of the incident so they could provide another level of intervention.
Prior to Bennett’s murder, police had already increased their presence in the neighborhoods along 23rd Ave last week amid an ongoing wave of shootings. Wednesday night, police swarmed the area around 21st and Union after a bout of gunfire damaged vehicles parked along the streets. That shooting continued gun violence spiked in August in a string of shootings and drivebys. Police officials have said the violence stems from a resurgence in personal disputes and tensions between gangs in the Central District and South Seattle.
Neighbors have called on Mayor Jenny Durkan and new SPD Chief Carmen Best to respond to the shootings. “My Officers and the SPD gang unit are aggressively investigating this incident and I have both on duty and (overtime) officers working in the area tonight and for the near future,” East Precinct Commander Capt. Bryan Grenon wrote in an email sent in response to messages from neighbors concerned about Friday’s homicide.
Grenon said he plans to attend the next monthly meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council (EastPAC) community group next week on Thursday, September 27th:
September EastPAC Meeting 9/27, 6:30 to 8:00 pm Seattle University Chardin Hall, room 142 1020 East Jefferson, 98122
Chris Fisher, SPD Strategy Officer, meanwhile, has shared information with neighbors outlining the department’s efforts to address the violence. The SPD analysis says much of the recent violence is connected to a single individual:
We are aware that a particularly violent individual recently was released from prison and has returned to the area. When this individual was incarcerated, there was a marked reduction in violence in the area. They are suspected of being connected to several recent shots fired incidents in the area. SPD is working with other local partners, as well as federal partners like the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the ATF Regional Gun Crime Task Force to locate this individual and to develop probable cause for this individual’s arrest.
The report also outlines four other policing strategies being used in response to the shootings.
- Deploying SPD K9 and SPD SWAT Team members, while on duty, to the area when not responding to calls. This is for increased visibility and for faster response should an incident occur.
- East Precinct is utilizing approved overtime and on-duty resources to increase anti-violence emphasis patrols for the next few weeks, using data to ensure they are deployed where and when the violence is likely to occur
- East Precinct resources will be coordinating with the Gang Unit to ensure all efforts are aligned with their on-going investigations in the area
- SPD’s Patrol Operations and Collaborative Policing Bureaus are working with community organizations to have trained and respected community members on the ground to respond to these critical incidents and intercede in emerging and on-going conflicts
SPD also encourages residents and businesses to keep up the calls and messages. “We ask that you and your neighbors continue to call us whenever you see or hear something concerning,” the report reads. “We are a data-driven department, and we cannot make informed decisions unless the community continues to let us know what they need to feel safe.”
The full report from SPD is below.