The shooting near Seattle Center on Saturday night marked the third time in the past five weeks that a bystander was shot in the city. That man was wounded in the leg. In the earlier shootings, the victims were killed.
A man waiting to cross the street near Seattle Center was shot in the leg Saturday night, the second bystander in three days — and the third in recent weeks — to be caught in gunfire, continuing a troubling increase in the number of shootings in Seattle since the start of the year.
More violence erupted early Sunday: In four drive-by shootings in South Seattle, gunmen fired more than 60 rounds, riddling four houses and several cars with bullets. Miraculously, no one was hit; a teenage girl dived to her bedroom floor to avoid being shot.
While gang detectives are involved in several of the investigations, and police say at least one suspect is an admitted gang member, detectives do not know what role gang tensions may have played in the violence.
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City Council President Sally Clark said the rash of gun violence was both senseless and “beyond irresponsible.”
“The city and community will figure out how to stop this,” Clark said, though she added: “I find myself in a hard spot being able to tell people with a straight face, ‘Hey, don’t worry.’ “
After Thursday’s Central Area killing of Justin Ferrari, a 43-year-old father of two, Seattle police dispatched additional patrol officers, along with teams of officers drawn from the department’s SWAT and Anti-Crime teams, to patrol high-crime areas in the East, West and South precincts, Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said Sunday. Officers assigned to the extra patrols are “meant to be mobile,” and are tasked with preventing violence and more quickly responding to gunfire, he said.
“Those bullets pose a danger to everyone,” not just their intended targets, McDonagh said. “It’s extremely dangerous to have bullets fired randomly or intentionally. They’re going to stop somewhere.”
“I was just chilling”
Ryan Burr, 33, had stopped for a beer Saturday, then wandered around near Seattle Center with a book.
“I was just chilling for the afternoon,” Burr said.
He was waiting to cross Broad Street when he heard two gunshots. He looked down and saw blood gushing from his right leg. A woman wrapped her sweater around his wound as they waited for paramedics to arrive.
“I really have a lot to be grateful for,” said Burr, who was released from Harborview Medical Center on Saturday night.
A teacher’s assistant at Washington Middle School in the Central Area, Burr wondered about the man who shot him: “I would be curious to know if this person is somebody who has had a lot of down-and-out kind of luck, or if he has just chosen a path of crime,” he said.
Though he’s angry, Burr said getting shot hasn’t made him fearful. “As mad as I am that somebody is acting this insane, I am also pleased with the people who took care of me, who still care about strangers. That’s not totally lost,” he said.
The suspect was chased down by officers and arrested in the Seattle Center House.
Officers said he told them he is a gang member from the Kent area. He was shooting at another man, also a gang member, who had hit him on the head with a skateboard, according to police. Officers recovered a handgun and the shooting suspect was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of assault.
One officer heard the shots and two others saw and chased the suspect. All three had been assigned to work around Seattle Center during the festival, McDonagh said.
Other officers, who have now been assigned to the special-emphasis patrols, are responding to “high-priority 911 calls,” but their main mission is “to focus on the general violence and the gang violence first,” he said. The extra patrols will last through Monday night, and come Tuesday, police brass will re-evaluate “how we can redeploy and have a greater impact on this.
“We need to put a stop to this — it’s too much,” McDonagh said. “… It’s not just Nicole or Mr. Ferrari or other innocent bystanders. Our whole community is a victim in this. They’re tired of it, they’re upset, they want it to stop.”
Nicole Westbrook, a 21-year-old culinary student who had just moved to Seattle, was fatally shot April 22 while walking home with her boyfriend in Pioneer Square.
Ferrari, who died in his father’s arms, was running errands with his kids and parents on Thursday afternoon. He was driving through an intersection and was struck by a stray bullet as one man shot at another across East Cherry Street.
No one has been arrested in connection with either killing.
Mayor Mike McGinn on Sunday denounced the recent violence, which also included a fatal shooting during a suspected home-invasion in North Seattle just before 2 a.m. Sunday.
“We have seen a rise in gun violence in the city since the beginning of the year, and it’s a matter of real concern,” McGinn said.
The Seattle Center shooting, which occurred about 7 p.m. Saturday, came hours before the drive-by shootings in the South End, and the North Seattle shooting.
4 houses, 60 bullets
In the South End, police said, more than 60 bullets were fired at four houses, beginning about 1 a.m. The police gang unit is investigating at least two of those shootings.
The first shooting, at 1 a.m., was in the Brighton neighborhood on South Frontenac Street. Shortly after 3 a.m., bullets hit a home in the 4600 block of South Holden Street, also in the Brighton neighborhood, and in the 4800 block of Columbian Drive South, on Beacon Hill.
At about 3:10 a.m., a girl was nearly shot inside her bedroom at 4200 South Henderson Street in the Rainier Beach area.
The teenager, who asked not to be named, was about to go to bed when a bullet shattered her window. She dropped to the floor and ducked behind a dresser as several more bullets tore through her bedroom wall. Two of the rounds struck the drywall just above the pillows she would have been resting on had she been in bed.
“It was pretty quick. It lasted just a few seconds. It was scary,” said the girl, who thinks the shots may have been intended for another family member.
At 1:52 a.m. in North Seattle, an intruder shot a man in the chest inside the home and ran off.
Police said the homeowner, who had a marijuana-growing operation in the house in the 12300 block of 11th Avenue Northeast, confronted the intruder during an apparent robbery attempt.
The homeowner was taken to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening-injuries, according to police. KOMO 4 TV, quoting unnamed family members, reported Sunday that the man had died. That would be the city’s 16th homicide of the year.
There were 21 homicides in all of 2011.
McDonagh urged anyone with information about the shootings to come forward.
“We have great detectives but they need information to work from. We won’t be able to solve these crimes without the community,” he said. “Our detectives need that little tip or piece of information that pushes a case forward.”
News researchers Gene Balk and Miyoko Wolf contributed.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.