About that early Saturday morning gunfire you heard on Capitol Hill… — UPDATE

If there is truly a staffing issue at Seattle Police and in the East Precinct, it wasn’t evident early Saturday morning after a bout of nighttime gunfire drew a small army of officers and ended with at least four people cuffed and in custody.

Five or so gunshots reportedly rang out across Pike/Pine just before 3 AM from the area near the Harvard Market parking lot. Police had already been responding to a large fight disturbance in the Broadway Mud Bay parking lot when East Precinct radio dispatches reported the firearm activity nearby. Continue reading

With recommendations from the city and Seattle Police, these Central District neighbors are battling gun violence with a mural and a food truck

Following a deadly shooting at the corner earlier this year, neighbors decided it was time to do more than emphasis patrols and increased policing. Some pundits made fun of a push for better environmental design as part of the answer to gun violence in the Central District. But neighbors are pushing forward. After welcoming the El Costeno food truck, the former Shell gas station parking lot on the corner of Union and 21st is becoming home to a new community mural as part of efforts to make the corner safer for everybody.

“Although it’s not written explicitly, my mural will make the statement that people who live here care about their neighborhood and are making efforts to maintain it,” said Gabrielle Abbott, the artist commissioned for the mural. “The artwork occupies the space so people don’t feel like it’s a space they can use for illegal or unwanted activities.”

Efforts to improve the corner are a result of surrounding area residents’ concerns of illegal activity after multiple instances of gun violence and the deadly shooting. Healthy Youth Central Area Network (HYCAN), a Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative supported by Seattle Public Schools, joined efforts to make positive use of the corner by supporting the mural project. The organization aims to support a community mural on a yearly basis. 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

Business reps call for support at Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s summer safety meeting

The wave of shootings across the Central District that have left a 19-year-old dead and others wounded gained its terrible strength in a shooting weeks ago in March in Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson where 21-year-old Hakeem Salahud-din was gunned down next to the park’s basketball court.

Police, Mayor Jenny Durkan, and City Council representative Kshama Sawant have focused much of their efforts in the Central District to stem the violence. But gun violence incidents on Broadway and in Pike/Pine, and fears of an increase in street disorder as summer approaches also have the neighborhood’s business community concerned.

Seattle Police Department and mayor’s office representatives spoke earlier this month with Capitol Hill business representatives to discuss crime and street disorder throughout Pike/Pine and along Broadway as summer quickly approaches.

The event, hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce at Elliott Bay Book Company and moderated by the chamber’s head and District 3 candidate Egan Orion, looked to give locals an opportunity to air grievances and priorities as well as allow the city to give an update on the state of crime in the neighborhood.

SPD East Precinct commander Capt. Bryan Grenon said that in the area there has been a 4-5% reduction in crime overall as of the beginning of the month but crime statistics are ripe for abuse in a community forum. You can look at the latest SPD stats for the East Precinct covering Capitol Hill here on the CHS Crime Dashboard. Beyond the statistics, there has been a spike in violent crime with eleven shootings in 30 days taking place across Capitol Hill and the Central District.

The first area of emphasis in the meeting was the reasoning for a lack of SPD emphasis patrol in Capitol Hill given high crime levels in the area as the Mayor’s office chose seven other neighborhoods instead. Sabrina Bolieu, business liaison for Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, explained, saying that they were looking for areas with increases in person-on-person crime and Capitol Hill has simply sustained its crime level. 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

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

At least one person shot as gunfire rattles Central District’s Midtown Center

(Image: @sdottraffic)

At least one person was shot in the leg and bullet casings were found spread across the intersection after a volley of gunfire from a vehicle that quickly sped away from 23rd and Spring Tuesday night.

Police and Seattle Fire rushed to the area just before 6:40 PM after multiple reports of shots fired on a night when most of the booms reported to 911 are fireworks. Continue reading