Tenants throughout two newer South Seattle high-rise buildings hopped out of bed early Tuesday and peered out their blinds at the sound...
Tenants throughout two newer South Seattle high-rise buildings hopped out of bed early Tuesday and peered out their blinds at the sound of gunfire.
Two male teens and a 28-year-old man had been shot, a dark-red Cadillac was speeding off and the sound of police sirens was getting closer. Police say the shootings in the 3600 block of 33rd Avenue South left one of the three victims dead and the other two hospitalized. No arrests have been made.
A decade ago, shootings like Tuesday’s were more common as drug dealing and gang activity rampaged across Mount Baker in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. But as the neighborhood has grown in popularity, police say, block watches in the area have grown more active and violent crime is a rarity.
In 1996, there were six rapes, 25 robberies, 82 burglaries, 342 thefts and 102 stolen cars reported in the area, according to Seattle Police Department statistics. By last year, those numbers had dropped substantially to no rapes, one robbery, two burglaries, 22 thefts and 11 stolen cars.
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But some residents still have plenty of concerns — ranging from violence to car prowls to loitering — and will meet with police and apartment managers tonight to discuss crime in the area.
Since moving to Mount Baker two weeks ago, Brian Nguyen and his wife have had many sleepless nights because of a group of youths congregating beneath their window at the Dakota at Rainier Court apartments. Screaming, laughing and music from car stereos thump well into the morning.
“It’s really loud. Sometimes it wakes me up,” Nguyen said.
Pat Chemnick said that when she moved into the neighborhood 30 years ago her house was surrounded by boarded-up buildings. She said car prowls are the worst problem she has seen recently.
“I’ve been through the crack dealing, gang activity and crack houses,” Chemnick said, adding that “the last 12 years it has just been very safe.”
“Something like this would shake any community,” Chemnick said. “For the poor people in Rainier Court, this happened in their front yard.”
The Dakota at Rainier Court offers affordable housing for families.
Earlier this year, when home burglaries swept the neighborhood, residents combated crime by walking the streets together. New residents such as Erin Brumett, who moved to the neighborhood from Madrona a year ago, said she and her family often walk to the park and the supermarket.
Seattle police Lt. James Koutsky said violent crime is a rarity in Mount Baker. He said patrol and gang officers have their hands full with problems farther south along Rainier Avenue.
“From most of our perspective, it’s pretty quiet. There hasn’t been a lot of issues,” Koutsky said. “There were some rashes of burglaries, but shootings and violent crime we’re not seeing.”
Leo P. Walker Jr., a resident in the Dakota at Rainier Court, said he’s lived in South Seattle for years but he is only now starting to worry about his safety.
“I kind of feel safe, but in a way I don’t,” he said. “Young kids around here are getting shot.”
Walker said that when he came home late Sunday, a young man whom he didn’t know asked him for a cigarette. He said he was later told this was one of the shooting victims.
“I heard a pop, pop, pop,” Walker said. “I saw two guys running. Last month, we had another shooting at a townhouse nearby.”
Chemnick, who works for SouthEast Effective Development, a nonprofit founded more than 30 years ago to revitalize businesses and neighborhoods in Southeast Seattle, said other residents at the Dakota and at the Courtland Place at Rainier Court, a senior-housing complex across the street, also worry about their safety.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org