On the day after eight people were shot — one fatally — at Third Avenue and Pine Street, a worker at the Piroshky Piroshky bakery came in and quit. He had seen enough.
“Here we’re trying to create jobs,” said Brian Amaya, head of the bakery’s operations. “But I understand.”
Amaya was part of a crowd of frustrated downtown business owners, affordable-housing providers, neighborhood groups and high-school students who gathered at Seattle’s Westlake Park Friday morning to demand change from city officials.
Their message: “Enough is enough.”
Jon Scholes, of the Downtown Seattle Association, opened the rally by praising the Seattle police officers — Greg Nash and Shannan Seelig — who ran to the scene after hearing gunshots and tended to a 9-year-old boy shot in the leg.
Scholes, president and CEO of the association, spoke of the “criminal ecosystem” at Third and Pine that he says has increased over the past few years. He said Seattle police data shows violent crime is up in the downtown core.
Scholes urged those at the rally to attend the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, at City Hall.
“Our response must be immediate, bold and sustained,” he said.
Susan Boyd, the CEO of Bellwether Housing, which owns an affordable-housing property at Third and Pine, lamented that residents who work low-wage jobs in the downtown core must pass through “the chaos” of that corner just to get to work.
“They deserve a community of safety and security,” Boyd said. “We are so sad that it has taken a tragedy like this to get the attention this area deserves.”
Police on Friday continued to search for two suspects — Marquise Latrelle Tolbert and William Ray Tolliver, both 24. A third suspect, 21-year-old Jamel Jackson, was injured in the shooting and has been arrested and booked into jail on a firearms charge.
The three men are believed to have been involved in a dispute outside the McDonald’s on Third just after 5 p.m. Wednesday that resulted in gunfire, according to Police Chief Carmen Best.
The woman killed in the shooting was identified Friday as Tanya Jackson, 50.
At Friday’s rally, Piroshky Piroshky owner Olga Sagan described customers “who want to get through that space as quickly as possible,” and must negotiate needles, urine, feces and an open-air drug market.
Watching the scene from under an awning, Mertiss Jay Thompson looked at the police and security personnel who dotted the area and shook his head.
“All of this stuff could have been avoided,” said Thompson, who takes the bus from his home in South Lake Union to the Jefferson Park Golf Course, where he is a golf instructor. “Of all the places I’ve lived, I’ve never seen something like this — and I’ve lived in Chicago.”
Thompson, 82, believes Third Avenue should be a place where people can sit, have coffee, take things in and feel safe.
“I’ve seen it in Paris,” he said. “And here, I’ve seen tourists get hit in the back of the head. Where are the leaders? Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
A group of students from the gun-violence prevention organization Team Enough walked down to the rally from The Northwest School. The students were concerned that guns and homelessness weren’t mentioned in any of the speeches.
“We all agree that there is a problem at Third and Pine,” said Team Enough co-founder Sarah Rosoff. “But what we’re concerned about is gun legislation. Calling it a ‘hub of criminal activity’ is targeting the homeless and criminalizing people of color.”
As students for whom active-shooter drills are the norm, they have a “tie” to gun issues, said Alexander Soukakos, 18.
“We came out to this to use our voices to push forward a different agenda.”
Joe Williams, 37, who has lived on the streets for years, told of being hit on the head with a baseball bat at Third and Pine by a group of men who took his jacket and phone.
“I’m tired of getting beat up,” he said. “But I don’t know how to fix it. It is what it is. A street is a street.”