Spike in gun violence prompts extra police patrols in south Seattle this weekend
SEATTLE – Each day seems to bring another shooting, and another victim, as the city wrestles with a sudden spike in gun violence. Seattle police are responding with stepped up patrols in the south end, where tensions on the streets seem to be boiling over.
To respond, Chief Kathleen O’Toole said her detectives are working round the clock to identify suspects in these crimes. She has also shifted resources so officers can cover the areas where the most serious incidents are occurring.
The change was evident in Rainier Beach on Friday night. Within moments of a shots-fired call going out, a crush of patrol officers arrived to take control of the situation.
Witnesses heard up to ten gunshots near a Jack in the Box along Rainier Ave. S. No one was hurt, but several rounds punched through cars in the parking lot.
“It's probably the worst immediate upswing in violent crime that I can remember,” said Pat Murakami with the South Seattle Crime Prevention Council.
On Wednesday, gunfire killed a woman at Borracchini’s Bakery and injured a customer inside. Another shooting just a few blocks south at S Genesee St. had parents and children running for safety at a nearby playfield.
Murakami said the best bet is to drop to the ground.
“A stray bullet could easily hit you,” Murakami explained. “You want to be down low, and if you're near your child, cover your child."
Early Thursday, an elderly couple got caught in a shootout in the Central District as they passed two other vehicles. The man is still hospitalized.
Murakami is convinced some of these shootings are gang related. She tells her neighbors to paint over the gang-related graffiti that is turning up more frequently. She also wants those neighbors to get involved, so criminals don't run the streets.
“I think they need to tell our city officials this is unacceptable,” she said.