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.
CHS has confirmed that a cache of powerful weapons was seized in an apartment in the East Union building on the northwest corner of 23rd and Union as part of the investigation into the man prosecutors say was responsible for the shooting of a bystander in the May 3rd shootout at the 23rd and Cherry AMPM service station. Police say two handguns were also recovered from the Renton home the suspect Demarco Pressley shares with his mother. CORRECTION: CHS mistakenly identified the building as The Central, a building by the same developer on the southwest corner. The building where the weapons were found is the East Union building as corrected above.
It’s not clear whose apartment held the powerful weaponry found as part of the Pressley investigation in the Central District. Police say they could not identify the apartment’s tenant where the weapons were found because he has not been booked for a crime.
A representative for Lake Union Partners, the developer of The Central and the other mixed-use projects around 23rd and Union, tells CHS that the building’s managers had no idea of the man’s background as a convicted felon when he moved into the building.
“Unfortunately due to the no criminal background check legislation passed by City Council last year, our property manager was not able to confirm this,” the representative said. “This is one of the consequences of that particular law.”
In 2017, Seattle passed a law limiting criminal background checks on tenants. The Washington Supreme Court is slated to take up a real estate industry lawsuit against the law in June.
“The whole situation is troubling for obvious reasons,” the Lake Union Partners representative said. “Not the least of which is the safety and security of our residents.”
“As part of an ongoing investigation into recent gang-related shootings in the Central District and South Seattle, members of SPD’s Gang, Narcotics and East Precinct Anti-Crime units, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, served several warrants in the King County region on Wednesday and recovered a cache of weaponry, including three military-style rifles, four handguns, and a significant amount of ammunition,” police posted along with a collection of pictures of the guns in an SPD blog update earlier this month on the weapons seizures.
“Police believe these weapons were intended to be used in future gang-related violence,” they write.
SPD has said there had been an ongoing gang emphasis patrol underway in the Central District even before the May 10th homicide. “[T]he Seattle Police Department is very concerned about gun violence and has been and will continue to do gun violence emphasis with our gang unit in this neighborhood and other neighborhoods affected by gun violence,” a spokesperson said the day of the shooting.
In addition to the gang emphasis patrols that SPD says have been underway around the Central District and in Pike/Pine, the department says its longterm efforts including social programs to curb gun violence are working.
Thursday night, the East Precinct Advisory Council community group will hold its May meeting at Seattle University’s Chardin Hall from 6 to 8 PM. East Precinct Command staff is expected to attend and the group says City Council members Kshama Sawant and Lorena Gonzalez have been invited “to speak about their ideas and strategies to prevent and decrease gun violence.”
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