Mayor Ed Murray and East Precinct commander Capt. Paul McDonagh stood at the corner of Broadway and Pike Sunday night just feet from where one of five victims injured in a drive-by shooting fell early that morning.
The officials said they believe the neighborhood remains vibrant and relatively safe as a police department “in transition” works to solve the crime and quell a rise in gun violence in Seattle.
Meanwhile, KIRO has posted a video from what appears to be a private vehicle’s dashcam that shows the graphic shooting scene that unfolded early Sunday morning.
The car used in the attack made a slow turn onto Broadway from E Pike as a string of at least a dozen shots began and people in a group standing on the corner in front of the grocery store flailed and fell to the pavement. Four people were shot in the chaos and one was injured so badly by the exploding glass of a shattered QFC door that medics first believed the woman had been shot multiple times in the chest. Seattle Fire said the five victims in the shooting suffered minor injuries — but concern remained high in the neighborhood.
“We do see an increase in gun violence in this city and cities around America,” Murray said Sunday night to a group of business and community leaders including representatives from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Capitol Hill Community Council. “It’s concerning to us.” Murray told the group the situation “has all of our attention.”
Capt. McDonagh said gang detectives continue to investigate leads in the case following the 1 AM shootings and injuries near the Harvard Market shopping center and busy parking lots used by many nightlife revelers. Plywood covered the broken QFC door but a hole employees say was caused by a wayward bullet remained unpatched inside the market Sunday night. The precinct commander said he could not share any updates on the case but the mayor said he expected to hear more about what transpired at Broadway and Pike soon. Police were looking for information about the silver sedan where the gunfire came from that was reported to have immediately fled the scene following the shooting.
Sunday night, Murray and staff from the mayor’s office told the business and community representatives that the Seattle Police Department is a force “in transition” and that more tools and officers are coming to help make the East Precinct safer. The mayor said the work underway to modernize the city’s police force isn’t an excuse but that the department is “trying to thread this needle” with how heavy a presence Capitol Hill communities will accept.
Two initiatives the City Hall reps pointed to were covered by CHS as we reported plans to expand the downtown Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and the Multi-disciplinary Team programs to Capitol Hill. LEAD focuses on diverting drug users — and to a lesser extent, sex workers — from jail into treatment programs, while the MDT casts a wider net. Under the program, outreach workers go on patrol with officers to offer a range of social services. The programs are hoped to help East Precinct officers to focus more time on safety policing and less time on drug and homelessness issues. Downtown, drug-related calls for service rose 13% while drug-related arrests declined by 40% from 2012-2014 under the LEAD program.
A representative for the mayor’s office confirmed the programs will be utilized in Pike/Pine up to around 14th Ave starting in 2016. The rep said the city has also completed its application for a federal grant to deploy gunshot tracking technology in Seattle. The representative said he wasn’t sure if that technology would be deployed on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, a wave of gun violence in the city and a spike across Central Seattle has included several shootings including Thursday night’s incident on E Cherry in which a teen was hit in the leg. Earlier, the FBI announced nine people had been taken into custody in a law enforcement operation focused on guns and drugs in the area around 23rd and Union following a deadly summer of Seattle shootings.
The area around the Harvard parking lots near where Sunday morning’s incidents occurred draws nightlife crowds and has been the scene for brawls and assaults. In August, a 23-year-old was gunned down in a parking lot shooting in another nightlife area of the Hill on E Pine near Melrose. That murder remains unsolved. A community vigil following that deadly shooting included calls for the city and property owners to make the area safer.
Sunday night, one business owner asked the mayor and precinct commander why the Pike/Pine emphasis patrols ramped up this spring have seemingly decreased. Capt. McDonagh said the emphasis patrols are still active in the area but have shifted for more beat walking presence during daytime hours. Earlier, CHS reported emphasis patrols in the area have been focused on Friday and Saturday nights when the population in Pike/Pine swells with thousands of bar, club, and restaurant patrons. McDonagh also said it was emphasis patrol officers who arrived at the scene of Sunday morning’s shootings seconds after the bullets flew.
Sierra Hansen, the newly hired chamber of commerce director, called on the mayor’s office and SPD to hold a forum with chamber members to discuss safety in the neighborhood and the new programs coming to Capitol Hill in 2016. With Capitol Hill Station set to open early in 2016, attendees said they were also interested in talking with city officials about how the new transportation line will affect policing resources in the neighborhood.
Newly elected District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was not present at Sunday night’s meeting and representatives for the mayor’s office said they were unsure if she had been invited.