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Seattle Fire: Delay in D’Vonne Pickett shooting response caused by MLK Way address mistake — UPDATE

KeAnna Pickett and D’Vonne Pickett, Jr. at the 2018 opening of The Postman (Image: CHS)

The Seattle Fire Department has confirmed that a mistake in the dispatch of medic units personnel to the scene where D’Vonne Pickett, Jr. was gunned down at MLK and Union last month cost valuable minutes in the efforts to save the life of the 31-year-old father, business owner, and youth football coach.

UPDATE: SFD has clarified that the delay was for Seattle Fire personnel to reach the scene and that it is still reviewing “whether there was an actual delay of a medic unit due to address change.”

The acknowledgement comes as the city prepares to mourn Pickett at a November 10th memorial at Climate Pledge Arena. Meanwhile, the man charged in Pickett’s murder amid a “psychotic” string of shootings leading up to the MLK and Union killing is also slated to enter his plea in the case next week.

A spokesperson for the department says Pickett was transported within two minutes to Harborview Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries but that a mistake in the initial dispatch delayed the arrival of Seattle Fire personnel.

According to Seattle Fire, crews responding to the Wednesday, October 19th shooting were sent initially to 1141 Martin Luther King Jr Way South near Judkins Park.

Pickett was actually down just under a mile and a half north, shot multiple times at his family business The Postman at 1141 Martin Luther King Jr Way where his wife had called 911.

Five minutes later as crews arrived at the south MLK address, the Community Safety Communications Center realized the mistake. The first crews arrived about two minutes later at MLK and Union.

“The address initially provided by the Community Safety Communications Center to SFD (via first 911 caller) was correct,” a Seattle Fire spokesperson told CHS about the seven minute delay in a statement. The mistake was made in the 911 dispatch process, according to the spokesperson:

SFD (was) initially sent to the wrong location (SOUTH); this was quickly corrected to (PLAIN). Seattle Police officers provided aid to the patient prior to SFD arriving on scene, which was a few moments later. The patient was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries upon arrival by SPD and SFD.

“Life-saving efforts were attempted and after treatment was provided on scene, he was transported by medics to Harborview Medical Center within approx. 2 minutes which is the time it took medics departing from the scene to arrive at the hospital,” the spokesperson said.

UPDATE: Seattle Fire says the address mistake did not delay a key medic unit from arriving at the scene.

A spokesperson said the city’s dispatch system “selected the closest medic unit which responded from Station 28 in the Rainier Valley and had a direct route of travel to the incident.”

“Medic units are staffed with two firefighter/paramedics and provide Advanced Life Support. This means we had a delay in the initial responding units of firefighter/EMTs, but not of paramedics on Medic 28,” the spokesperson said.

SFD, meanwhile, says the delay in the initial response was only four minutes — not seven as reported by CHS — because “Seattle Fire units are unable to enter a scene of violence until it’s deemed secure by SPD.” The spokesperson said the actual delay for its first personnel to reach Pickett was only four minutes due to the address mistake because of the required police delay.

Seattle Fire did not provide further details about any potential ongoing investigation around the incident or why call location information from the caller’s phone didn’t help clarify the situation.

In 2021, the Community Safety and Communications Center was moved from SPD as part of efforts to reduce spending on policing in Seattle.

Seattle’s street grids of intersecting areas where naming turns into South, North, East, West directionals can be a nightmare for dispatchers. On Capitol Hill, being clear on an address like 14th Ave or 14th Ave E can save vital minutes. The neighborhood also has enough soundalikes to cause the occasional 911 confusion. You will regularly hear dispatchers and personnel emphasize names like “Howe-EL” to differentiate from the plain “Howe.”

The delay, meanwhile, adds to the tragedy around the loss of Pickett who is being remembered as a dedicated member of the Central District community. A fundraiser to support his family has raised more than $146,000.


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1 month ago

Seattle should adopt the Portland system, in which the compass point always precedes the street name. It’s far less confusing.

1 month ago

I’ve experienced this as well, I have to clarify that I’m just on MLK not MLK S., for deliveries, Lyft pickups etc and once for the Access van for my elderly mother in law. We don’t think about the clarity of an address being a matter of such urgency but it is! Condolences once again the family, just having to read an article like this must be very difficult.

Mars Saxman
Mars Saxman
29 days ago
Reply to  Maryam

When I lived on MLK, it was an even bet whether any given delivery driver would find the correct segment of the road, or whether I would get a confused call – “I’m here, across from the park, but I can’t find your house!”. No idea how to fix this mess, but maybe this tragic incident will provide some motivation.