A male officer, who was shot in the face, was in serious condition. A female officer, whose Kevlar vest saved her from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the chest, was treated at a hospital and released. A third officer suffered a hand wound and was treated and released.

Share story

Three Seattle police officers were shot and wounded while trying to arrest robbery suspects in downtown Seattle on Thursday afternoon before one of the suspects barricaded himself in a nearby building where he was later found dead.

A male officer, who was shot in the face, was initially listed in critical condition but was upgraded to serious condition. He remains in serious condition Friday morning. A female officer, whose Kevlar vest saved her from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the chest, was treated at a hospital and released.

Downtown shooting

 

A third officer suffered a hand wound and was treated and released from Harborview Medical Center, police said. A fourth officer was struck by a bottle during the struggle with the robbers and was treated at the scene, police said.

One suspect, a 17-year-old girl, was arrested near the shooting scene around 2:10 p.m., about 45 minutes after the officers were shot near Madison Street and Western Avenue. The two other suspects, including the one found dead, are 19-year-old men, police said.

The shooting created a chaotic scene downtown as police flooded the area and ordered office workers to stay inside and closed off downtown streets, causing gridlock until the start of the evening commute. During the search for suspects, police were unsure how many people had been involved in the robbery and shooting.

Seattle Police held a press conference Thursday night after the shooting earlier in the afternoon. (Erik Lacitis / The Seattle Times)

Initially, police said they were looking for a third suspect, but then later announced only two people were apparently involved.

“Case is rapidly developing and detectives are reviewing new evidence as it’s coming in,” police said in a tweet.

However, around 5 p.m., police reported that officers now believed a third person was involved in the robbery. That individual was taken into custody about an hour later, but police released no details about the arrest.

Likewise, the fate of the barricaded suspect repeatedly changed: At an afternoon news briefing near the shooting scene, Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best said that aside from the wounded officers, no one else had been injured. A short time later, a police spokesman said the male suspect suffered “significant injuries.”

It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. that police announced the suspect was dead and his body remained inside the Federal Office Building, 909 First Ave.

During the search for that suspect, federal employees inside the redbrick and terra-cotta art deco building sheltered in place and could be seen peering out the windows. They were later led out by police.

The wounded officers were taken to Harborview. The female officer who was shot in the chest is 42 years old; the male officer, 30, suffered gunshot wounds to his chin and rib cage, Best said.

She said both were talking at the hospital. Both have been with the department for about three years, Best said.

“They’re obviously in pain and discomfort, but their attitude is great. One of them was smiling,” Mayor Ed Murray said during an afternoon news conference outside the hospital.

At a press conference, Deputy Chief Carmen Best, Mayor Ed Murray and Steve Mitchell. medical director of emergency services at Harborview provide updates on two officers wounded in a shooting Thursday afternoon. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Police said a second male officer, a 27-year veteran, suffered a hand wound and was treated and released from the hospital.

Police released no information on the fourth injured officer.

Their names were not released.

“We are obviously grateful this did not turn out worse,” Best said during an evening news conference at police headquarters.

The suspects robbed a 7-Eleven at First Avenue and Cherry Street about 1 p.m., according to police and a man who answered the phone at the store. “I don’t have time to talk right now,” the man told a reporter before hanging up.

The suspects had reportedly stolen beer from the store before they were chased out by a clerk.

The bicycle officers, who were nearby, confronted the suspects about two blocks away and a fight ensued, Best said. While one officer fought with a male suspect on the ground, the 17-year-old girl struck the officer over the head with a bottle, she said. The suspects then fled, and one fired at police, who returned fire, she said.

An SPD patrol car camera captured the suspect fleeing into a loading dock with officers in pursuit, followed by an audible exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police on April 20, 2017. (Courtesy of Seattle Police Department)

The suspect who opened fire then barricaded himself in the building, Best said. That man was later found dead, she said.

“In an abundance of caution, when we entered the building, we decided to clear it and render it safe,” Best said, explaining why it took so long for police to declare the man dead.

She said she didn’t know how the man died or whether he had been shot by responding officers or was mortally wounded during the exchange of gunfire with the injured officers. Police said the circumstances of his death will be determined by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The officers who opened fire will be placed on paid leave during the investigation, which is routine after officer-involved shootings. It wasn’t immediately clear how many officers fired at the suspect.

Amanda Clark was walking when she witnessed the shooting of two Seattle police officers downtown Thursday afternoon. She describes the scene. Note: Video contains strong language. (Vernal Coleman / The Seattle Times)

Amanda Clark said she was walking to the 7-Eleven with a girlfriend when a male and female ran out of the store past her. A clerk chased them out and police apparently arrived a short time later, she said. Clark was questioned by police at the 7-Eleven.

During the search for the suspects, people inside nearby buildings were told to lock themselves inside.

“We’ve got the doors locked, and the cops are all around us,” said Cindi Raykovich, co-owner of a running store. “They want us to stay in the backroom.”

As officers responded to the scene and closed off streets, one warned a reporter, “This is a dangerous area. You don’t want to be here. There are guns.”

Murray, at Harborview, expressed relief that the officers’ wounds were not more serious.

“When we think about our police, this is who we should think about: people who put their lives on the line every day; people who leave their homes in the morning, and their families don’t know if they’re going to come back. … These two wonderful officers are going to be able to go home, and that’s the good news of this story.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Deputy Police Chief Carmen Best discuss the shooting of two police officers Thursday afternoon. (David Gutman / The Seattle Times)