Seattle Police want people on Capitol Hill concerned about Sunday’s shooting at 13th and Olive to know that the department’s investigation of gun violence can be methodical but that the issues are known, the crime problems are being addressed, and detectives are working to make sure there is eventual justice.
SPD spokesperson Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said the department’s detectives are “actively tracking this investigation” and that gang units are “aware of recent incidents in the city” including a recent string of shootings across Capitol Hill and the Central District. According to the latest SPD statistical report on city crime for November, gunfire incidents continue to plague East Precinct and South Precinct despite a continued drop in overall crime across the city.
Sunday, a man was jumped and shot multiple times at close range around 1:30 AM at 13th and Olive just blocks from the East Precinct and, fortunately for the victim, even closer to Fire Station 25 from where responding Seattle Fire crews were able to keep him alive and rush the victim to the hospital. Whitcomb tells CHS the shooting was not random but the circumstances of the drive-by are still being investigated. He said increasingly sophisticated investigation tools make it easier for his department to solve gun crimes and pointed to a recent arrest following a road rage incident involving a gun and an upcoming announcement regarding another Seattle gun violence case as examples. Another example: the November 22nd, 2015 drive-by at Broadway and Pike that injured five people including four hit by the gunfire. Authorities said a person of interest in that shooting was taken into custody in January.
Sierra Hansen, director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, said that the East Precinct has been bracing for the spread of gun-related crimes into the area’s nightlife and entertainment areas. “We are seeing a lot of gun violence in surrounding areas,” Hansen recalled precinct reps telling area business owners and staff at a meeting earlier this year. “And we’re nervous it will be coming to Capitol Hill soon.”
Sunday’s shooting follows a spate of “last call” gunfire incidents around Capitol Hill late this summer including an incident in the Harvard Market parking lot in which a woman in her 20s was shot in the chest but survived. In the Central District, police are also investigating a pair of October shootings weeks apart under similar circumstances and inside the same business at 23rd and Union. No arrests have been announced in those cases but a late night gunfire incident on Capitol Hill in late October landed a 23-year-old man wanted on a rape charge in jail.
“We are very troubled to see a spike in gun violence, especially at a time of the year when historically we see it drop off,” Troy Meyers, chair of the East Precinct Advisory Council anti-crime community group, tells CHS. “Considering that a lot of the residents of our neighborhoods are feeling more disenfranchised in light of the recent election results we have to redouble our efforts to ensure safe and sane gun ownership and that everyone feels that they have value and that they are included in the process.”
“EastPAC needs to see more community engagement and asks people to join our announcements mailing list http://EastPAC.org to stay updated on opportunities to participate in making our neighborhoods stronger,” Meyers said.
Hansen said she sees a need to hire more — and more community-aware — cops.
“When you look at the density of folks in the evenings, when you look at the lack of the uniform officers who are present or even available, it’s natural to assume the violence will happen where there’s a lot more people,” Hansen said.
While Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2017-2018 budget includes money to hire an additional 200 police officers, the City Council is proposing a proviso that holds the money back until the department institutes “a preference points system” to encourage more applicants “who are multi-lingual and/or have work experience or educational background providing important skills needed in modern policing.”
More funding for crime diversion programs would also help free up time for more serious crime policing by SPD, Hansen said.
Hansen said the chamber is asking for more resources for the neighborhood but needs more humanpower itself to get the job done. An expanded Business Improvement Area, among many things, she says, would allow the group to hire a dedicated public safety staffer to lead the chamber’s lobbying efforts.
“We can’t just hire anybody off the street to enforce the law,” Hansen said. “We need law enforcement that is reflective of the community they are policing.”