A night of gun violence across Seattle overnight included a burst of gunfire in a drive-by shooting on Capitol Hill. The attack played out with a hail of bullets between people in two vehicles as they sped by patrons enjoying the night on Pony bar’s busy patio at 12th and Madison just after 1 AM, according to police radio dispatches.
There were no reported serious injuries.
It could have been much worse. Police found one victim who was believed to have been struck in the back during the shooting — the slug did not penetrate the victim’s skin.
Police recovered slugs and shells from at least three areas around the shooting where someone opened fire as two vehicles passed. One vehicle fled the scene eastbound on Union, the other west. Streets were closed and evidence gathered at the main scene outside the IHOP at 10th and Seneca where one of the involved vehicles was ditched, while bullets and shells were also being recovered at 12th and Madison, and 13th and Union. A car parked at 12th and Madison was also found with a bullet hole in its window.
According to witnesses, the two cars involved were a 4-door sedan and an SUV. Police found the SUV abandoned nearby at 10th and Seneca. Shortly after the shooting, another vehicle with bullet damage was stopped by police at Broadway and Cherry but it’s not clear if the stopped vehicle was the sedan involved in the shooting or a possible third vehicle involved in the drive-by.
Multiple witnesses at Pony told police they saw a male shooting from the window of the sedan as it passed the SUV.
A standard of late night social media conversations around the central city also quickly played out on the streets: fireworks or gunshots? A burst of sparkles from somebody’s bottle rocket coincided with the actual gunshots, according to police radio.
Police response to the Capitol Hill shooting early Saturday morning was rapid with gang units already in the area for Pike/Pine’s weekend emphasis patrols. Earlier this month, SPD credited its stepped-up presence in the entertainment district with a bust that netted a heavily armed, suspected drug dealer. Evidence collection following shootings has been one key weapon in trying to stem the tide of gun violence. Saturday morning, with the chaos from the shooting spreading across three or four blocks, police closed off the area around a single slug somehow found on the ground at 12th and Madison. Matching bullets and casings to gun types and specific guns means every crime scene is combed for items to be collected, cataloged, and, hopefully, matched.
The shooting followed a night of gunfire earlier this week in the Central District near Powell Barnett Park. Wednesday night around 8 PM, police were called to a report of a shootout involving at least two vehicles. They arrived to find shell casings and, fortunately, no victims.
The Capitol Hill incident was also part of a string of shooting across Seattle overnight. In Pioneer Square, multiple victims were reported in what is being called a shootout, while in West Seattle, a man was shot in the leg.
The gun violence echoes the rise in shootings Seattle and the East Precinct saw last summer. SPD has begun working more closely with federal law enforcement agencies to curb the gun violence. This spring, the department has also acted early to roll out a stronger presence in South Seattle to respond to increasing “shots fired” calls. In its most recent report (PDF), SPD says there were three reported shooting incident in the East Precinct between mid-March and mid-April:
UPDATE: SPD announced it will increase the numbers of officers on patrol following the overnight violence. We’re told the most significant element for East Precinct will be a reduction in cross-precinct deployment which will allow more officers to be available here on Capitol Hill and in the Central District where the “summer staffing” has already been “accelerated,” we’re told:
Chief Kathleen O’Toole has directed the Seattle Police Operations and Investigations Bureaus to accelerate summer staffing deployment levels in an ongoing effort to deter and prevent gun violence. Starting tonight, Seattle residents can expect to see extra police officers in neighborhoods, nightlife districts and hotspots detailed in our SeaStat crime analysis reports.
These added resources will be a mixture of officers brought in on overtime as well as staff from other assignments, such as the Gang Unit, SWAT and Traffic, in coordination with the Real Time Crime Center.
The accelerated deployment is due in part to two early morning shootings in which four people were injured, one of them seriously.
The first shooting occurred shortly before 1 a.m. near 10th Avenue East and East Seneca Street. The second shooting occurred just after 2 a.m. in a parking lot at Occidental Avenue South and South Washington Street. The injuries occurred in the latest shooting.
Both investigations remain active and ongoing and have been assigned to the Gang Unit for follow up. Anyone with information regarding either incident is urged to call 911.