City collecting feedback on plans for E Union protected bike lanes

While the department says its designs for the project are only at the “10%” conceptual stage and big decisions about things like whether part of the route will require riders to cross sidewalks and how many if any parking spots will have to be removed, SDOT is collecting feedback on what has become a current flashpoint in Seattle’s struggles to create useful bicycle infrastructure in the city — the planned E Union protected bike lanes.

Through May 31st, the Seattle Department of Transportation is running an E Union St Protected Bike Lane Survey. The short survey asks about your current transportation habits around E Union and how you think protected bike lanes might impacts your behavior.

It also gets to the heart of the matter for many who are criticizing the plan — choose 3! Continue reading

After deadly shooting at 21st and Union, where did SPD find a cache of military-style rifles and ammo in gang gun violence investigation? Two blocks away

One of the firearms seized from a Central District apartment building (Image: SPD)

As scads of city officials toured the area around recent scenes of Central District gun violence Wednesday and are considering approaches including simpler, faster solutions like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design features, another factor in the ongoing violence has emerged.

Many of the powerful firearms swept up by Seattle Police, FBI, and ATF agents around Seattle in the weeks following a deadly shooting at 21st and Union were found in an apartment only blocks from where the deadly May 10th gang shootout went down.

East Precinct commander Capt. Bryan Grenon told the African American Advisory Council community meeting last week that some of the military style rifles and ammunition recovered by police was found in a nearby apartment building just blocks from where the deadly shooting occurred, a person who attended the meeting told CHS.

Among the weapons seized were two AK-47 style assault rifles, an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, and a large amount of ammunition. Continue reading

Renton man charged in 23rd/Cherry shootout that left victim hit in the crossfire

A Renton man is the first person charged in Seattle Police, federal, and King County Prosecutor efforts to stamp out a string of gun violence across Central and South Seattle.

Demarco Pressley, 25, faces three counts including an assault charge and two charges of unlawful possession of a firearm after being arrested in the shooting of a woman caught in the crossfire of an apparent gang dispute.

He has not yet entered a plea on the charges, according to court records.

Police say Pressley can be seen in security video from the night of May 3rd incident at the AMPM service station at 23rd and Cherry firing off a series of shots as a vehicle speeds away and returns fire along 23rd:

Continue reading

Police announce arrest in 23rd and Cherry gas station shooting — UPDATE: Guns seized

Seattle Police say they have arrested a 25-year-old Renton man for his part in a shooting at a Central District gas station earlier this month that left a woman wounded after she was apparently caught in the crossfire.

CHS is not naming the man because he has not been charged but records show he was arrested and ultimately convicted in connection with this 2011 incident in which South Seattle gang members opened fire during a vigil for a 19-year-old who had been shot and killed. Continue reading

Durkan’s response to Central District gun violence: ‘a multitude of strategies’ including emphasis patrols, social programs, and a new public safety advisor in the mayor’s office

The mayor touring downtown last week as part of the rollout of her pre-summer, seven-neighborhood emphasis program to ” make neighborhoods safer, cleaner, & more vibrant”

In the wake of last week’s shootout at 21st and Union that left a 19-year-old dead and two more people wounded, Mayor Jenny Durkan has been publicly silent about the reignition of gun violence in the Central District even as she and her office’s representatives appeared at two previously scheduled events this week to talk about crime in Seattle.

But behind the scenes, the mayor’s office says it is taking steps as part of a longterm strategy to make the city safer and to do more to address the factors Durkan says are behind the shooting incidents in the Central District.

First, Durkan is adding a respected senior public safety advisor to her staff.

Second, the mayor is convening a “multiple City department” meeting with community groups and “stakeholders” to identify immediate actions and next steps in the neighborhood as well as provide updates on the investigations.

“We must approach public safety in a holistic manner to most effectively address the root causes of gun violence in our communities,” a letter sent this week by Durkan to “community members and organizations concerned with the recent spate of gun violence” and shared with CHS by a representative from her office reads. Continue reading

With District 3 candidates forum season underway, Speak Out Seattle leads with homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence

The controversial but increasingly influential political group Speak Out Seattle hosted a forum for District 3 city council candidates to discuss issues of homelessness, displacement in the Central District, and gun violence among others over the course of the event that took place Tuesday evening in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Northwest African American Museum.

The first question of the evening from Speak Out Seattle stemmed from an issue that is informing much of this year’s city council races: the failed head tax.

“Look, big business has to do more to pay their fair share,” said Zachary DeWolf, the first out gay Seattle Public Schools board member, also arguing that the head tax has dominated the debate too much. “Everyday we talk about this unsuccessful policy, we have not talked about the other ideas, which are increasing the local estate tax” as well as basing fees and fines on income levels. (DeWolf is the only candidate to have written for CHS)

Council member Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative incumbent, was the sole candidate to voice continued support for the tax. Continue reading

Neighbors say environmental design could be small step to help stop 21st and Union gun violence

While Friday’s murder of 19-year-old Royale Lexing can be clearly tied to an ongoing string of gun violence across the Central District, Capitol Hill, and Seattle, neighbors around the scene of the shootout at 21st and Union are looking at a much more local problem — and maybe solutions.

At Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee, Central Neighbors said SPD’s emphasis efforts are welcomed but called on the city to look beyond policing in its efforts to curb gun violence.

They point to a series of shootings around 21st and Union — five different incidents across about 18 months — that indicate that while the violence is tied to citywide and regional issues of crime and inequity, 21st Ave and its place in the heart of the Central District might also be a major factor in the ongoing violence. Continue reading

‘Lost for words’ — Family identifies 19-year-old gunned down on E Union

A fundraiser page to help pay for the 19-year-old’s funeral expenses is here

Family has identified the young man killed Friday afternoon in a Central District shootout at 21st and Union as Royale Lexing.

“We are all lost for words,” a fundraiser page created to help pay his funeral expenses reads. “This handsome, smart, young man did not deserve this! We can all agree Royale kept everyone smiling when he was in your presence.”

Saturday night, family and loved ones gathered at the scene of the shooting and created a memorial of flowers, candles, balloons, a bottle of Hennessy, and a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. The candles were still burning Sunday morning when CHS visited the scene.

According to court records, Lexing listed a Rainier Valley address as of late last year.

Continue reading

Multiple victims including one dead in Central District shootout — UPDATE: More shootings overnight

Multiple people were reported shot in a shootout near 21st and Union Friday afternoon including one person reported dead at a nearby hospital.

Shots rang out along E Union just after 3:00 PM in a chaotic scene involving multiple armed suspects and at least three victims.

UPDATE: Police have confirmed that one person was found dead outside Swedish and two more were taken to Harborview in unknown condition.

Police flooded the area looking for at least one suspect seen fleeing in a vehicle.

Some of the victims were taken by private vehicles to nearby Swedish Cherry Hill where police said one person was reported dead via East Precinct radio. Continue reading

Lowrider Baking Company, the Central District’s new cookie shop, moves in at 24th and Union

(Image: Lowrider Baking Company)

The logo of Lowrider Baking Company, a new Central District cookie counter shop, may feature a large wiener dog but its cookies are for humans only.

“It was just a way to combine my obsession with my dogs and my obsession with cookies,” says Lowrider founder and owner Emily Allport, who owns two dachshunds, Smokey and Riley. Now, she also owns a cookie-only bakery space and walk-up counter in The Stencil building on 24th and Union, located in the former Street Treats retail space. Lowrider Baking Company will officially open May 11th.

For two years, Lowrider has been a popular pop-up presence at farmer’s markets and some coffee shops in the South End. In October of last year, Allport made her cookie operation more permanent with a trailer in the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. There, the bakery has a sign that says “COOKIES,” and in parentheses, “for humans”, though Allport says that “99.9% of the time there is no confusion.” Continue reading