One man in the crowd was hit by the gunman before he fled, but police say a phoned-in tip from nightclub security personnel prevented the shooting from being a much worse disaster.
The drama unfolded shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday when security personnel at the Citrus nightclub called 911 to warn police that there might be trouble with the crowd at closing time.
Seattle gang unit detectives arrived on scene, and as people began leaving the club at closing time, someone across the street opened fire on the crowd in the parking lot, hitting one person before running away.
From their vantage point, detectives saw the man fire into the crowded parking lot then run across Fairview Avenue North, gun in hand.
Three detectives gave chase and confronted the man. When the suspect pointed the gun at the detectives, two of them opened fire, winging the suspect. The suspect, later identified as a 22-year-old man, was then taken into custody. Detectives recovered his gun and placed it into evidence.
The suspect was treated at the scene and then taken to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, where he remains under guard. He will be booked into the King County Jail when he is released from the hospital, police said.
Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man who was shot by the gunman fled the scene. A couple blocks away from the club he saw an officer responding to the shooting and flagged him down. Medics were called and the man was taken to Harborview with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said the incident could have been much bloodier if club security had not called 911 before the incident and alerted police to the potential for violence.
"The officers likely saved lives tonight because had they not been here, and the guy could have continued firing into the crowd, multiple people would have been hit," said Nick Metz of the Seattle police.
Preliminary investigation indicates that there may have been more than one person shooting in the nightclub parking lot. The unknown suspects remain at large, police said.
No officers were injured during the incident. The two officers who opened fire will be placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
A Firearms Review Board will be convened in the coming weeks to determine if the shooting was within Department policy.