Post navigation

Prev: (03/14/24) | Next: (03/15/24)

Harrell, Chief Diaz respond with more police, calls for change in state gun restrictions after student shot and woman killed in 23rd Ave gun violence

A bullet hole and shattered safety glass in the Metro bus stop in front of GHS (Images: CHS)

There are again more police and private security in place around Garfield High, the largest public high school serving Seattle’s Central District and Capitol Hill, after area gun violence injured a student at a 23rd Ave bus stop and left a woman dead on the sidewalk earlier this week.

Parents and the community are looking for a larger response as city officials and Seattle Police Department leadership say they are doing everything they can to make the area safer and solve the crimes.

SPD Chief Adrian Diaz told the audience at a Thursday night public safety forum held at the city’s central library that he expects “resolution soon” in the Wednesday afternoon shootout between two vehicles that sent a 17-year-old Garfield student caught in the crossfire to the hospital with a serious injury to her leg and left bullet holes and shattered glass amid crowds of students leaving campus for the day.

Investigative prospects are more dim for bringing justice in the shooting that followed hours later and only blocks away that left a woman in her 30s dead on the sidewalk at 23rd and Main.

Police have said they do not believe the shootings are related but have limited evidence from the slaying that took place on the backside of the busy AutoZone parking lot. Diaz said Thursday night the S Main killing happened just around the corner from a stepped up police presence at 23rd and Jackson following the Garfield shooting and only a block from the “Mobile Precinct” truck and camera system the department has parked in the lot since last fall’s driveby shooting that damaged a childcare center full of children and brought community calls for more to be done to address public safety issues in the area.

The killing happened despite the increased number of officers in the area. The deadly gunshots could be clearly heard during an officer’s radio call with East Precinct dispatch as police were making a delayed response to a reported altercation in the area.

At Garfield, the school is again finding itself in the middle of the city’s plague of gun violence. Last June, the campus was briefly shut down after a series of gun related incidents in the area. An increase in police presence and more private security from the district was put in place.

This week, the increased presence of East Precinct officers has returned. Community Passageways has been supported by city funding to also have an increased presence in the area with a new office in the AutoZone shopping center. Its community “ambassadors” with intervention training were on campus and part of the crowds in the area when Wednesday’s rolling gun battle broke out.

In a message to families, Garfield principal Tarance Hart said King County Metro Security and police “will provide increased security and presence near the bus stops in the coming weeks” and Community Passageways “will continue offering support during lunch hours and after school, contributing to a safer environment for our students,”

“SPD officers will also be present on our campus through the end of tomorrow for added security,” Hart said Thursday. “Our school district has also temporarily assigned an additional security specialist to our campus, increasing our total number of security specialists to three.”

Hart and city officials have also provided an update on the 17-year-old victim in the Garfield shooting, and emphasized that she “was not the intended target.”

The student was reported in stable condition at Harborview after surgery and “is expected to recover fully,” Hart said.

Police are working to identify the teen suspect seen wearing a camouflage ski mask as he fired a gun from a light-colored SUV.

The woman killed in the second shooting is believed to be unrelated to the day’s earlier gun violence. She has not yet been publicly identified. Police had been called to the area in the hour before the shooting to a reported disturbance or altercation and have asked the public for help in the investigation.

There were 1,701 “shots fired” incidents across King County reported in 2023 — including 107 homicides

The gun violence and latest killing came as Mayor Bruce Harrell launched a series of public safety forums Thursday night and concern around the shootings started the nearly two-hour conversation.

The mayor, who attended Garfield and grew up in the Central District, focused on Olympia with his response to the slaying and injured student.

“Too many people have too many guns,” Harrell said, calling on state to pursue a ballot initiative to allow mayors to regulate gun ownership, restrictions that are currently limited under Washington law. Giving examples of restrictions he cannot enact — carrying firearms in parks, introducing an alcohol limit on gun possession, instituting stricter background checks, or requiring training — the mayor called for a vote on the change.

“I would love to have that kind of flexibility,” Harrell said Thursday night.

With the gun issue a long slog and the limits of an increased police and security presence on clear display, Garfield parents and community members near 23rd and Jackson are looking for additional ways to make the area safer. Discussions in the Garfield High School parents social media group have included threads about doing more to change streets and restrict traffic around the campus, how to make the bus stops safer, and writing to mayor Harrell, the Seattle School Board, and District 3 representative on the Seattle City Council Joy Hollingsworth calling for immediate increased resources to address the gun violence emergency in the neighborhood.

There will also be more community meetings. The mayor’s series will continue in April with public safety sessions held in each of the city’s five police precincts.

Hollingsworth, who was elected on a platform that included support for the mayor’s push for increased hiring of police and increased spending on public safety in underserved areas, has also ramped up her office’s series of District 3 public safety forums.

“Please note that this is our number one priority, and we are working hard behind the scenes to utilize every single resource within our power to make sure our schools are safe,” Hollingsworth said in a message from her office in response to families expressing concern about the Garfield area shootings.

Her office will hold its next public safety meeting Tuesday night.

 

PLEASE HELP KEEP CHS PAYWALL-FREE!
Subscribe to CHS to help us pay writers and photographers to cover the neighborhood. CHS is a pay what you can community news site with no required sign-in or paywall. Become a subscriber to help us cover the neighborhood for as little as $5 a month.

 

 
Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

10 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SeattleGeek
SeattleGeek
27 days ago

By the end of the meeting, “Hiring more police” was the second lowest priority in the meeting poll.

The whole meeting last nice was a whole polished she-bang and there was only one question of any substance that was taken from the audience: “Given that officers can choose to take 25 minutes to respond to a shooting and suffer minimum penalties, what good is ShotSpotter?” directly referring to the Shooting at the Showbox. The 25 minute response was avoided in the answer, and Bruce got real hot and bothered by the question. He said something like “we need this for data. If you have any better idea for data collection, send me an email.”

Any time there was a pushback above a titter – there were definite boos to the return to office – Enrique Cerna got angry at the audience.

Instead of audience questions, Cerna wasted so much of our time literally reading out the percentages of people who felt “safe” or “unsafe” in the first poll. We can read, Enrique. Don’t read the slides to us. And, how about asking any of those questions about police accountability that were in that question box?

The bottom line is that the majority of the city – even the ones who “don’t feel safe” – do not want the surveillance technology and want more police accountability, especially if we are supposed to be hiring more.

But, the bonus was having the fire chief, HHS, and 911 First Responder up as part of a panel, even if they mostly spoke at the very beginning and then were sidelined for the technocratic show. I would have loved to hear more about the programs they need and the resources they need rather than the “more cops, more surveillance technology” dog and pony show the mayor was putting on.

Gentlefer
Gentlefer
27 days ago
Reply to  SeattleGeek

Completely agree! What a joke from the minute the meeting started. The fake poll. Their only plan is to waste time. No one bought it

Cdresident
Cdresident
27 days ago

He’s gonna be the mayor that oversaw the most murders in Seattle history.

Derek
Derek
26 days ago
Reply to  Cdresident

Yep. He’s the single worst mayor in recent memory

New to Seattle?
New to Seattle?
25 days ago
Reply to  Derek

How about Jenny Durkan?

Let's talk
Let's talk
24 days ago
Reply to  Derek

Compared to Jenny Durkan, Ed Murray and Mike McGinn? Much better than those clowns

CobbleNeighbor
CobbleNeighbor
24 days ago

Would any of the mayor’s desired gun law changes have prevented these in incidents? I’m not a gun fan but it seems like we need to solve our gang problem, gang members aren’t going to be concerned with city firearms training or prohibitions on carrying a gun in a park (neither of which would have prevented these two recent shootings).

Jason
Jason
24 days ago
Reply to  CobbleNeighbor

Gangs will always exist in a capitalist society, Always. Fix social inequality first then you will fix gangs. Gangs exist because kids in “problem areas” don’t want to work and won’t work McDonald’s for shitty pay when they can sell drugs and steal. Just give people housing and more money lol…literally solves it.

district13tribute
district13tribute
24 days ago
Reply to  Jason

Social inequality exists in every economic system and has existed in every era of history so you are never going to “fix” it. The best you can do is hope to minimize it and by any measure capitalism has done more to life people out of poverty than any other economic system.

Will
Will
23 days ago

You don’t have to let gangs organize. You must fight against them, and the drugs.
Yes, you will never win, because they are persistent in our society.
Still you must fight them, or they will get exceedingly worse.