A social gathering in a White Center alley early Sunday erupted into gunfire, spraying dozens of bullets that struck buildings, parked vehicles and injured at least three people.

The wounded, men believed to be in their 20s, arrived at Harborview Medical Center a little after 6 a.m. Sunday. One man remained in critical condition, while a second was in serious condition. The third,  who was shot in the leg, was  treated and released, according to representatives of Harborview and the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was some type of gathering that was occurring at an after-hours location down the alley, and during that there was a disturbance that broke out,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott said in a briefing at the scene. The alley — between 16th Avenue Southwest and 17th Avenue Southwest, just south of Southwest 98th Street — extends behind storefronts for an adult video store, a massage parlor and a smoke shop.

Abbott had no details about what led to the shooting, how many people were involved or a description of suspects. He described the after-hours location as a club but declined to name it, saying investigators were still piecing together the club’s link to the incident.

Investigators cordoned off a block of Southwest 98th Street and marked it with yellow evidence placards. Abbott said they had recovered around 40 shell casings from the scene. “There were a lot of gunshots,” he added, and only one 911 call around 5:30 a.m.

The gunfire broke out barely a block from a residential neighborhood, with police tape hanging just feet away from a free-library box, and the incident added to the unease that some residents have about crime in the area.


Quyen On, a longtime resident, wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or not when he thought he heard a loud succession of bangs. He asked his wife if she’d heard a sound like fireworks, and when she said yes, they looked out the window and saw police, he said.

One neighbor, who asked to not to be named to protect his privacy, said he woke to the gunfire and immediately recognized what it was. It sounded like “bop-bop-bop-bop-bop” — possibly 20 shots or more, he said — and he called 911.

Jacob Ponce, who also lives near the scene, said there have been more criminal incidents in recent years. Just a few months earlier, he said, there was a stabbing in almost the same location at Sunday’s shooting. “We need more agents in the area,” he said. “We really need our own police department here.”