Louie Newhouse and his co-workers at a North Seattle construction company watched Wednesday morning as police and death investigators examined and photographed the body of a 47-year-old man who died on a patch of grass outside a battered recreational vehicle, its door nearly torn off and blood visible above the door handle.

Witnesses began calling 911 just after 5 a.m. to report hearing gunfire in the 9600 block of Midvale Avenue North in Seattle’s Licton Springs neighborhood, police spokesman Detective Patrick Michaud said. Officers arrived and found the victim laying on the ground near his parked RV, dead from an apparent gunshot wound, he said.

Police released no other information on the shooting, including a possible motive.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the victim’s name and cause of death had not been released by King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Newhouse said police searched the gravel parking lot outside his company for bullet fragments. The early-morning homicide, he said, is another indicator of a growing crime problem in the area that’s worsened over the past couple years.

“The cops are doing what they can, but they tell me their hands are tied by our city council. It’s so aggravating — it’s not a homeless issue, it’s a drug issue. It’s an epidemic,” Newhouse said.

Advertising

He said the RV where the man was shot has been in the neighborhood the past six months, one of the more recognizable vehicles that regularly parks on Midvale or nearby North 96th Street.

“This is the clearest the street has ever been,” Newhouse said, noting only the RV where the shooting happened remained on the street where up to 10 of them are usually parked. “I know when that happened, people cleared out so they wouldn’t be wrangled into it.”

Newhouse said he has watched drug deals go down and seen women he suspects are involved in prostitution change clothes right in front of him. He and his fellow employees, along with their neighbors at another construction company, sweep up used condoms, needles and garbage from the side street off Aurora Avenue North nearly every day.

The number of people living in RVs in King County more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, from 861 to 1,730, even as Seattle and other cities struggled to provide designated parking spots or consistent outreach. As a result, the issue of RV campers has become a flashpoint for businesses and neighborhoods.

Shortly after police had cleared the scene, a man who said he was friends with the RV’s owner stopped by. The man, who asked not to be named, had just seen his friend Tuesday night and said that man’s cellphone has since been turned off.

Pointing to a bunch of still-locked padlocks, he examined the destroyed door leading into the camper and speculated that the shooting happened during the course of a robbery. Inside the RV, belongings appeared to have been rummaged and a couple syringes lay on the floor.

Advertising

“He was nice. Too nice. People took advantage of him. He was too open about his (stuff),” the man said.