Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the deadly shooting on Jan. 26 in the homeless encampment known as The Jungle, Seattle police said.
Three teenage suspects have been arrested in connection with the deadly shooting last week in the homeless encampment known as The Jungle, Seattle police said.
The suspects, all boys, were arrested Monday afternoon at a small homeless camp on Fourth Avenue South beneath an Interstate 90 offramp, according to police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. Numerous police participated in the arrests just east of CenturyLink Field.
Whitcomb said the suspects are 13, 16 and 17 years old. Police also recovered a handgun during the arrests, he said.
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said at a press briefing Monday night that it’s unclear if the suspects are homeless. They were being interviewed and then booked into the King County Youth Services Center. She said police will search a vehicle impounded in the investigation but are looking for no other suspects.
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She emphasized what police said the night of the killings: that the incident was not random, and that the individuals involved knew each other.
Mayor Ed Murray praised investigators.
“This violent crime shocked Seattle. Thank you to the team at the Seattle Police Department for your professionalism in pursuit of this investigation, resulting in these three arrests,” he said in a written statement. “Our homicide investigators worked tirelessly to pursue leads and track down these suspects. We are also grateful for the efforts of our partners from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.”
Two people were killed and three were wounded the night of Jan. 26 when at least two people opened fire on a group gathered near a campfire at The Jungle, a notorious homeless encampment in a wooded expanse of land stretching along Interstate 5 from Sodo to Beacon Hill.
Jeannine L. Zapata, 45, and James Quoc Tran, 33, died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Two of the three survivors, a man and a woman, were listed in satisfactory condition Monday at Harborview Medical Center, according to spokeswoman Susan Gregg. The hospital did not release information on the third survivor, a woman who was said to be in satisfactory condition late last week.
One witness told The Seattle Times the shooting was over drugs and money, and was carried out by at least two men. He said the intended target of the gunmen, a homeless man he identified as “Fats,” was among those wounded.
Police later confirmed the shooting was likely over “low-level drug dealing” and that two guns were used.
One law-enforcement source said a witness told police the shooters may have left on bicycles.
The shootings, which occurred as Murray was delivering an address on homelessness, underscored the issues facing the city as the homeless population rises. A count last week revealed that 4,500 people were sleeping outside in Seattle and across King County.
According to friends and relatives of the dead victims, as well as court records, both Tran and Zapata had homes but both struggled with addictions that may have drawn them back into The Jungle.
Tran’s girlfriend said he was a loving boyfriend and father figure to her two young children but said he had struggled for years with drugs and alcohol.
An unemployed manicurist who was looking for work, Tran had been off drugs for two months and was trying to get into treatment, according to court records and his girlfriend, Thuy Nguyen.
Zapata’s family said she had beaten a crack addiction years ago and suggested she had gone back to The Jungle to visit friends.
Her aunt, Kimberly Sundstrom, told KIRO-TV that Zapata had been clean for several years and was living with a man in Renton. Sundstrom said Zapata had lived in The Jungle for 10 years while she battled drugs.