Two people were killed and two others injured Wednesday after a man randomly opened fire at cars and a Metro bus in North Seattle before stealing one vehicle and colliding with another, according to police.
A suspect was taken into custody after the crash near Sand Point Way Northeast and Bartlett Avenue Northeast shortly after 4 p.m., police said.
The driver of Metro Route 75, Eric Stark, was hailed as a hero for backing the bus out of the area, despite his wounds, and driving to safety. He hit an emergency alarm at 4:05 p.m. None of the 12 passengers was injured.
Police spokesman Deputy Police Chief Marc Garth Green called the shootings a “random, senseless act” during a media briefing. Witnesses described chaos as the gunman stood in a street and fired on cars and through the windshield of the bus.
Killed in the rampage were a man who was shot in his car and a man who was driving the car that collided with the gunman’s stolen vehicle, according to Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.
The scene stretched over several blocks east of Lake City Way, which was flooded with police vehicles and aid cars.
The motive for the shootings was not immediately clear, Garth Green said. The suspect was identified as a 33-year-old Northeast Seattle resident.
Garth Green said the incident unfolded just after 4 p.m. when the gunman shot a 56-year-old woman while trying to steal her car. He then shot at the Metro bus heading south on Sand Point Way, Garth Green said. The driver backed the bus up until he could stop at Northeast 125th Street.
The man then shot and killed a 50-year-old man and stole his car, taking off just as police arrived, Garth Green said. Police pursued the gunman for a block and a half before he collided with another car, killing the driver, a 70-year-old man, he said.
The woman, bus driver and suspected shooter were taken to Harborview Medical Center, where on Wednesday night they were listed as being in satisfactory condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
Thursday morning, Gregg said the 33-year-old shooting suspect had been discharged, while the other two patients remained at the hospital in satisfactory condition.
Records show that, upon his discharge from the hospital, the suspect was booked into King County Jail on investigation of homicide, robbery and assault.
Stark, the bus driver, suffered a gunshot wound to the torso but was able to walk to a gurney, according to Kenneth Price, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587.
“My understanding is, even after he had been struck by gunfire, he was able to maneuver the bus, to back out and get his passengers to safety, before hitting the emergency-alarm button,” Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said.
Stark, 53, has been with Metro since 2012.
Jessica Boore had arrived at her town house near 40th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 123rd Street from a dental appointment when she said she heard “a bunch of gunshots. I mean a lot of them.”
She closed her curtains and peeked outside to see two men she called “these good Samaritans” trying to escort people to safety from the intersection while a man with a handgun stood firing at cars.
Holding the gun in both hands
John Barrett runs a canvas and sail business out of the garage of his house on Bartlett Avenue Northeast. He and his partner were working when they heard a string of “pops” Wednesday afternoon, he said.
As Barrett walked to the end of his driveway, he saw the Metro bus roaring backward on Sand Point Way.
A block or so away, Barrett said, he saw a man was lying in the street, and a silver Subaru in the road. He returned to the garage to tell his partner to call 911, then went back out to see if he could help.
That’s when he saw the man who had been lying in the street — someone he thought was a victim — stand up, and holding a gun in both hands, start shooting at cars.
He saw the man try to open the door of a stopped Prius. Barrett said the man with the gun shot the driver in the face.
“I jumped in the bushes,” Barrett said. “I was afraid he was shooting at anything that was moving.”
Barrett said he went to the Prius driver, who was facedown and obviously dead. “There was so much blood,” Barrett said.
Barrett said he looked up to notice a woman in the Subaru. It looked like the back of the vehicle had been shot out. “I asked her if she been shot, if she needed help, and she raised her arm and leaned forward and there was a lot of blood,” he said.
Sand Point Way Northeast was blocked between Northeast 115th and 125th streets most of late Wednesday afternoon for the heavy police response. At one point, Seattle police said, the investigation stretched over seven different crime scenes.
The Seattle Division of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting Seattle police in their investigation, as is the King County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit Police.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the shooting a “tragedy for the Lake City community and all of Seattle.”
“We grieve with the loved ones of those who were taken, and we extend the good wishes and support of our City to those who were injured. I am unspeakably grateful to the King County Metro driver who acted to save lives.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine, who went to Harborview on Wednesday evening, tweeted that the bus driver acted heroically to protect his passengers.
Staff reporter Steve Miletich and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.