Friends and co-workers of a man who was shot Tuesday in what Seattle police call a “deliberate attack” say they don’t understand why he was targeted.
“He always has a smile on his face, livens things up and is a really hard worker,” said Sonja Webb, whose husband owns an upholstery business where the man works. “This is overwhelmingly traumatic for me.”
The victim, 57-year-old Victor Espinosa, was walking from his apartment on the corner of Northeast 55th Street and 27th Avenue Northeast to work around 8:30 a.m. when a dark sedan stopped in front of him.
A man in his late teens or early 20s stepped out of the car and shot at him at least five times, according to witnesses. Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the gunman then jumped back into the car and the driver, a man about the same age, raced off northbound on 27th Avenue Northeast.
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Workers at nearby businesses and Espinosa’s adult son rushed to his aid before medics took him to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. He was in serious condition in the hospital’s intensive-care unit late Tuesday afternoon.
Additional descriptions of the vehicle and the suspects were not available, but Whitcomb said detectives think there is at least one witness who could eventually come forward with more information.
“This was not a robbery; this was a straight attack,” said Whitcomb, who wouldn’t go into more detail about why police think the victim was targeted.
Espinosa has worked as a master upholsterer on and off over the past 10 years for Manning’s & Son Upholstery, where his young adult son was recently hired so he could learn his father’s trade, said Webb, the owner’s wife.
Webb said most mornings she would have been outside Manning’s & Son at about the same time as the shooting to go to the mailbox, but she was delayed Tuesday morning.
Webb and her husband, Theron Webb, stared at a large, red couch Espinosa had been working on in their small shop in disbelief, hoping they’ll be able to welcome him back to work someday.
“It’s like a family here and always has been,” Sonja Webb said.
Eric Paulus, who owns Eric’s Garage across the street from the shooting scene, said he’s known Espinosa for years. He described him as a nice guy who sometimes did work for his customers.
That’s why Paulus said he was shocked when he and a customer heard the shots and then took cover behind a vehicle and called 911. At least one of the bullets struck a white Chevrolet van parked outside the upholstery shop.
Whitcomb said that although the suspects targeted a specific victim, the spray of bullets could have hit innocent bystanders
“Not the best shot because some of the rounds went down the street and hit a parked car,” Whitcomb said of the shooter. “It’s a dangerous situation because it’s 8:30 in the morning, it’s a busy street, you’ve got people driving to work, taking their kids to school.”
Police ask that anyone who has information on the shooting call its tip line at 206-233-5000.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.