A man was killed Wednesday afternoon when he was shot inside a Rainier Valley church, where he was participating in a church gathering, police said.

Officers were called to the Emerald City Bible Fellowship church on Rainier Avenue South at 3:55 p.m. in response to reports of shots fired, said interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz at a news conference Wednesday.

When they arrived, they found a man with gunshot wounds. Seattle Fire Department medics treated the man and transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Diaz said.

Police believe the man was participating in a church meeting when a male suspect walked inside. Diaz said the two began a “discussion,” which ended when the suspect pulled out a gun and shot the man.

The victim’s affiliation with the church is unclear, Diaz said. No further information about him was immediately available. The suspect remained at large as of Wednesday evening.

Diaz added that detectives are working on interviewing the 40 witnesses who were inside the church at the time and are searching for video footage that might have captured the shooting.


“I wanted to respond out to the scene because we’ve had a number of shootings in our communities,” Diaz said Wednesday. “After coming off a year with 50 homicides … one of my big things is to try and reduce the number of shootings and calm the fear that’s going on in our community.”

Leslie Milton Jr., 61, said he lives in an apartment building next to Emerald City Bible Fellowship and came out to the sidewalk when he heard sirens Wednesday afternoon.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at this church. … I love my neighborhood. This is insane though,” said Milton Jr., who’s lived in the area for about eight years.