While details of Wednesday’s tragic shooting in Lake City are still unfolding, one thing is already clear.
Seattle and King County should take pride in the selflessness and courage shown all around.
Metro bus driver Eric Stark was shot through the front window of his bus. Before pressing the emergency alarm button to call for help, he drove himself and 12 passengers away from the man randomly shooting at vehicles.
Stark told KOMO-TV he thought he had been shot in the chest. But after assessing his injuries, “figured well, I can breathe, I can think, I can see, and I can talk. So for me that was enough to go, OK, I’m getting out of here, I’m going to get these people out of here.”
Seattle Police, assisted by King County Sheriff’s deputies, immediately approached the suspect after he crashed a stolen Prius and crawled out. Aerial video footage showed the ad hoc team did not wait for an armored vehicle or a SWAT team. Protected by vests and ballistic shields, they walked right up to a person who had just been shooting people in the street and apprehended him before he could hurt anyone else.
This reflects well on police preparation for what’s sadly become part of American life, the threat of random gun violence. To minimize harm from inevitable shootings, Seattle’s department invested heavily over the last decade in training and equipment to prepare patrol officers to quickly respond to active shooting situations.
Ordinary citizens also showed remarkable bravery and selflessness amid the chaos and danger in Lake City.
Neighbor Jessica Boore told the Times she peeked outside and saw two good Samaritans trying to get people to safety while the suspect was firing at cars. Another neighbor, John Barrett, walked toward the commotion, saw a person lying in the street, told his partner to call 911 then returned to help the person — who turned out to be the shooter, who stood up and started firing at cars. Barrett said he jumped in the bushes, then he went to help drivers who had been shot.
Three people were shot, one fatally, and a fourth was killed in a collision with the stolen Prius.
Shootings are an epidemic in the United States, one that’s worsened by inexcusably lax gun regulations and an absurd proliferation of firearms.
The number of Americans killed by firearms reached a high in 2017, with 39,773 gun deaths, the highest level since the Centers for Disease Control’s electronic database started in 1968. Nearly two-thirds were suicides, though the country also saw an average of at least one mass shooting per month last year, which is defined by the FBI as an incident in which at least four people are shot by a gunman.
Wednesday’s tragedy in Lake City was no less senseless and random, causing no less pain for those wounded and those whose loved ones were taken too soon.
There is nothing about this event to celebrate, only relief that it wasn’t worse.
But we can deeply admire the courage, humanity and professionalism shown by those at the scene.