Seattle police investigated 24 homicides last year. Seventy-five percent of victims were male and two thirds of all homicide victims died from gunshot wounds.
While men accounted for three-quarters of Seattle’s 24 homicide victims last year, the comparatively small number of female homicide victims reflects the vulnerability of homeless women.
Of the 18 male homicide victims, one was a homeless man found dead from gunshot wounds in October, according to information compiled from data from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Seattle Police Department.
In contrast, three of the city’s six female homicide victims in 2015 were homeless at the times of their deaths:
Twenty-four-year-old Biftu Dadi, who apparently danced at strip clubs to support a drug habit, had been sleeping in her SUV when she was fatally stabbed in March, allegedly by a man she’d met a week earlier.
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Six days after Dadi was killed, Margaret Pitka, 41, was napping inside her tent at Yesler Way and Eighth Avenue when she was fatally shot by a gunman who fired through the flap, killing her in an apparent act of retaliation after Pitka accused him of stealing drugs and money from another man.
Then in August, Stacey Davis, 48, was fatally bludgeoned with a homemade club and her husband was seriously injured when they were allegedly attacked in their tent by a neighbor in their homeless encampment underneath the Magnolia Bridge.
Suspects arrested in connection with each of the women’s deaths have all been charged with second-degree murder, court records show.
Countywide, the medical examiner recorded 91 homeless deaths in 2015, six of which were homicides.
Over the past five years, Seattle police have investigated between 19 and 24 homicides each year. So far in 2016, seven people have been victims of homicide, compared with two through the end of February 2015, according to Seattle police.
A 51-year-old convenience-store clerk in the Chinatown International District was fatally stabbed Jan. 10, apparently while escorting a shoplifting suspect out of the store at Fifth Avenue South and South Jackson Street.
On Jan. 25, two men, ages 58 and 65, were found fatally beaten in a Belltown apartment. The next night, a shooting in The Jungle homeless encampment — allegedly involving three teenage brothers — killed two and injured three others.
Then on Feb. 2, 45-year-old Solomon Hilts was fatally shot and two other men were seriously injured at a Rainier Valley gas station in what police believe was a targeted attack.
Last week, a 21-year-old man was found slumped over in a car in the 3300 block of South Holly Street. Emmanuel Gondo died from multiple gunshot wounds, likely on Tuesday, though his body wasn’t found until Wednesday.
The same gas station where Hilts was killed Feb. 2 was the scene of a minor argument in October that led to a deadly shooting across the street; Michael “Big Evil” Henderson is accused of gunning down a 20-year-old stranger.
In addition to Henderson and the suspects charged in connection with the deaths of the three homeless women, suspects in four other homicides from 2015 have also been charged, according to court records.
In two other cases, suspects were arrested but haven’t been criminally charged: One case is still under review and in another, prosecutors declined to file charges against a 55-year-old man since they cannot disprove he acted in self-defense when he fought Kenny Lofton, 47, in September, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Lofton, a resident at a supportive-housing facility for formerly homeless people with alcohol-dependency issues, died from his injuries hours later at Harborview Medical Center. The man he fought is also a resident of the facility.
Fourteen — or roughly 60 percent — of the 2015 homicide cases remain open, with no one arrested in connection with a death, according to Seattle police. Two-thirds of 2015’s homicide victims died from gunshot wounds.
Though homicide is defined as a death resulting from intentional harm by one person against another, SPD does not include officer-involved shootings in its homicide statistics. Such deaths are categorized as homicides by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
There were two such shootings in the city in 2015.
In July, 27-year-old Samuel Smith — who police say rammed a patrol car on Interstate 5 — was fatally shot in Ravenna after running at an officer while wielding a 16-inch knife, an incident that was captured by a police in-car video camera.
And in early December, Raymond Azevedo, 35, was fatally shot by Seattle officers after carjacking a couple of vehicles and leading police on a wild pursuit through the city’s Montlake, Northgate, Ravenna and Wedgwood neighborhoods.
A West Seattle toddler who was fatally beaten in September and two teenagers who were gunned down in separate incidents in March and December were Seattle’s youngest victims of 2015, while a 59-year-old community activist killed in July and a 49-year-old art teacher who died in December — both victims of apparently random shootings — were among the oldest.