‘We need to act as cities’ — what Seattle can do about gun violence

In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Texas, local politicians are joining the national chorus of voices — yet again — calling for substantive measures to address America’s gun violence problem. Seattle’s likely mayor-elect and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan called for municipal-level action on the issue in a statement made on Monday: “With no leadership from this Congress or our legislature, we need to act as cities,” she said.

But what does Seattle leadership on preventing gun violence look like? Local advocates for gun control and evidence-based approaches to reducing gun violence have a few ideas.

“There are a lot of things that can be done at the local level,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “It’s really important that municipalities and counties are dedicated to investing resources into ensuring that the laws we know are effective are implemented.” Continue reading

Community meeting called after more 23/Union gunfire

With tensions over change and displacement in the Central District boiling over in evictions, protests, and scuffles, neighbors are asking for more to be done after another bout of gun violence near 23rd and Union.

Police received a flood of 911 calls Monday night just before 7:30 PM reporting multiple gunshots and two vehicles seen fleeing the area. Arriving officers found shell casings near Marion and damage to houses in the area but, fortunately, no injuries.

In the wake of the incident, Sara Mae Brereton, owner of 23rd and Cherry’s 701 Coffee, posted a call for a community meeting to “stop the shootings” and calling on Mayor Ed Murray and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant to respond to the ongoing violence.

Stop the Shooting, Stop the Hate CD Community Meeting

Monday’s driveby shootout was the latest in a string of gunfire incidents along 23rd Ave from Jackson to Union. Continue reading

Man arrested in Capitol Hill gunfire incident was wanted on rape charge

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

(Image: Police Video Requests via YouTube)

The 23-year-old man whose arrest in a gunfire incident was captured on video early Saturday on Capitol Hill also had a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly raping his ex-girlfriend in SeaTac.

According to King County Court documents, Charles Southammavong was charged in July with second degree rape stemming from a May domestic violence incident in his SeaTac home. The victim, Southammavong’s ex-girlfriend, had a protection order against him at the time. Prior to the alleged rape, Southammavong had twice been convicted of domestic violence against the woman, according to court records.

Following his arrest on Saturday, a King County Judge found probable cause to hold Southammavong for unlawful possession of a firearm. He is being held in the King County Jail on $200,000 bail. Continue reading

Moms Demand Action on state gun control initiative at Cal Anderson Park

Moms Demand Action campaigning in Bellingham for I-1491. (Image: Moms Demand Action)

Moms Demand Action campaigning in Bellingham for I-1491. (Image: Moms Demand Action)

One of the leading anti-gun violence groups in the nation will be holding a rally at Cal Anderson Park September 24th in support of a statewide gun control initiative appearing on the ballot in November.

Moms Demand Action will be supporting Initiative 1491 — a measure to create “extreme risk protection orders” which would allow families and law enforcement officials to petition courts to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if the they are deemed to be threat to themselves or others. Continue reading

22 things CHS heard during the #disarmhate panel at Gay City

IMG_6632Attendees of a panel discussion on curbing gun violence and hate crimes didn’t have to look far beyond the walls of Capitol Hill’s Gay City auditorium to find reasons for the event.

Four shootings on Capitol Hill recently took place in the span of four weeks. A black woman was shot to death in Madison Valley. Days before Capitol Hill’s trans pride event, a transgender person was physically attacked.

“It’s striking that all theses incidents are happening in spaces that are supposed to be safe environments,” said Seattle Urban League CEO Pamela Banks, who moderated the event.

Panelists representing diverse populations around Seattle gathered Thursday to discuss gun violence in their communities. It was perhaps the type of wide ranging, “real conversation” that many politicians often plead for around issues of guns and hate crimes but so rarely happen. Continue reading

Seattle 4th of July weekend gun violence includes CD drive-by, Cal Anderson shots fired

It was nothing like Chicago where more than 30 people were reportedly shot in gunfire incidents over the 4th of July holiday, but Seattle experienced its own wave of gun violence over the weekend including a serious shooting near a homeless camping area in the ID and a bout of gunplay in Cal Anderson Park.

In the most serious incident, gun violence near a homeless camping area on Airport Way S sent a woman to the hospital with life threatening injuries Sunday night.

Seattle Police also said it took two firearms into possession over the weekend in shooting incidents around the city including a reported Saturday night drive-by near the Central District’s Judkins Park:

 

Witnesses called 911 at 8:45 PM Saturday night when they saw a man displaying a handgun in Judkins Park. Officers arriving in the area reported hearing multiple gunshots and seeing a white Lexus with no plates speeding away. Officers pursued the vehicle until it crashed into a fence at 14 Ave S. and S. State St. The driver attempted to flee the scene on foot, but was quickly caught by a K-9 unit. Officers searched the suspect and found a handgun. Officers booked the suspect into King County Jail.

East Precinct increased patrols across the Central District following a pair of weekend shootings in May.

Some of those booms on Capitol Hill over the weekend, meanwhile, were not fireworks. Police swarmed into Cal Anderson Park early Saturday morning around 2:30 AM after an officer reported hearing gunfire in the area. Multiple 911 callers also reported hearing around 10 shots near the park. Witnesses told police that two men were seen running and getting into a black Mercedes before driving away on 11th Ave following the shots. Police were not able to immediately locate the car.

The weekend gun violence comes in the wake of a Seattle Pride marred by a mass shooting in Orlando and stepped-up security around the city. Seattle is also considering longer-term solutions to attempt to curb gun violence. In June, Mayor Ed Murray announced a proposal for a test of gunshot detection technology in the city in “neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence, including the Central District and Rainier Valley.” A federal grant will pay for the project. The technology is unlikely to be deployed around Capitol Hill. Following last November’s drive-by shooting at Broadway and Pike, officials said that the detection technology wasn’t effective in noisy city environments.

What can the new 43rd rep do about gun violence?

IMG_7318-2 (1)The response to last week’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando remains very much reactive. On Seattle’s Capitol Hill there have been vigils and marches. LGBTQ venues in the neighborhood are participating in active shooter trainings ahead of next week’s Pride celebration. As attention turns toward what can be done to prevent future atrocities, CHS asked candidates running to represent the 43rd District what they would do in Olympia on the issue of gun violence.

Most of the eight candidates expressed their support for stricter gun laws at the federal level, including a ban on assault weapons. At the state level, several candidates said they would like to expand background checks and make it harder for people with a history of mental illness to acquire firearms.

Washington voters may also have a chance to do something in November as a signature gathering campaign is underway to put a gun control initiative on this year’s ballot. I-1491 would “temporarily prevent individuals who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms by allowing family, household members, and police to obtain a court order.”

Support for the measure was strong among the 43rd District candidates. Here is what they had to say.

Continue reading

CHS Pics | Faith leaders, Seattle officials again lead march across Capitol Hill against gun violence

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As hour after after hour fell by in a dramatic filibuster over gun control on the Senate floor, another ceremony was repeated Wednesday night across our own Capitol Hill. For the second time in three years, marchers gathered at St. Mark’s and passed down Broadway on their way to St. James to mark another American shooting massacre.

“Let us pray for our sisters and brothers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities here and across the nation,” said Mayor Ed Murray, leading a prayer after the marchers arrived at St. James Cathedral on First Hill. “May they know our love, our support, our advocacy, in the light of this horrific act fueled by hatred and cruelty. In the face of hatred, may there be love. In the face of violence, may there be peace. In the face of prejudice, may there be pride.”
Continue reading

Gunshot detection tech deployment being lined up for Central District

(Image: ShotSpotter)

(Image: ShotSpotter)

Already monitored by cameras from federal law enforcement agencies, the Central District could soon also be outfitted with technology designed to pinpoint gunfire and alert police to gun violence. Mayor Ed Murray Thursday announced his proposal for a test of gunshot detection technology in the city in “neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence, including the Central District and Rainier Valley.”

“We have seen gunshot locators work effectively in other cities,” Murray said in a statement. “We will work with our neighborhoods to gauge their interest in participating in the pilot project, as we protect the privacy of all residents.”

The mayor’s office will send legislation to the City Council to enable the pilot. A federal grant will pay for the project. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been lobbying cities across the country to deploy the system which uses microphones and sometimes cameras to collect sound and a computer system to pinpoint its location and alert police.

The mayor’s office outlined Seattle’s ongoing going violence:

Since the beginning of the year, 144 incidents of shots fired have been reported in Seattle. Five people have been killed and another 24 have been injured. Of the 69 people who have been assaulted by someone with a firearm, more than half of all victims are under the age of 30 and are African American.

During that same period in 2015, 154 incidents of shots fired were reported, resulting in two deaths and 27 injuries.

Officials say the Rainier Valley, the Central District and in South Park are the areas where most shots have been concentrated. “Shots are most frequently reported in the evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays,” according to the announcement.

The microphones — and possibly cameras — will join surveillance cameras installed around the Central District in response to past gun violence and drug crimes in the area. Last summer, federal agents confirmed to CHS that they had quietly installed surveillance cameras along 23rd Ave in the CD. In a July community meeting, Murray said the city was still in the process of “looking at” deploying advanced surveillance cameras and also promised that, unlike past use of cameras in Seattle, the process to deploy the technology would be fully public. Speaking before ATF representatives, Murray and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole were both apparently unaware of the agency’s camera plan at the time.

The deployment of the gunshot detection technology appears to be off to a more public start with debate set to follow as the legislation moves to the City Council. Some have criticized the systems for their privacy issues, some for their poor results.

Meanwhile, closer coordination with federal agencies has paid off for SPD. Chief O’Toole said last summer that the FBI and ATF formed a new partnership with the department. O’Toole said the Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Taskforce –- a partnership between Seattle Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Washington State Patrol crime lab — improved Seattle’s ability to analyze crime scenes.

Where the proposed detection technology will be installed probably won’t be determined for months but it is unlikely we’ll see it on Capitol Hill. Following last November’s drive-by shooting at Broadway and Pike, officials said that the detection technology wasn’t effective in noisy city environments like Capitol Hill.

Here’s what police say really happened in Broadway/Pike shooting

Tuesday afternoon outside of QFC, there really was gunfire, there really were two shots fired and broken grocery store glass, and, even though he couldn’t be found, there really was a man who got shot.

Police say they believe Tuesday’s shooting at Broadway and Pike was an act of self-defense by a legally armed man. Here’s what the shooter told police:

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Arriving officers cuffed the shooter during the initial investigation but eventually released him at the scene. He told police he didn’t know the man he said attacked him. Witnesses at Broadway and Pike that afternoon agreed that it appeared the shooter was the victim:

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Two shell casings were recovered at the scene. But the man who was shot could not be found… until three and a half hours later:

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Police say the man who was shot was not taken into custody but could face charges for the assault. They also report that he wasn’t pleased to find out the shooter wasn’t arrested:

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Police tell CHS that the shooter’s actions — even as they played out on a crowded corner in the middle of Capitol Hill — appear to have been entirely legal.