South Seattle neighbors feel 'under siege' after rash of shootings

SEATTLE - Residents in a South Seattle neighborhood cringe when they think about what the darkness will bring tonight.

"I'm just waiting for it to happen again," said a neighbor who did not want to be identified. "I heard the shots last night on the street outside my apartment. I'm at the point I expect to hear more shots tonight. It's nerve wracking."

That comment reflects the sentiment of many who live in the area of Rainier Avenue South and 56th Avenue South. There has been an outburst of gunfire within a mile-and-a-half of here on five of the past six nights.

"There's no answer to it, there's no rhyme nor reason. It just seems to be constant," said Melin Rodriguez, who lives in the area.

She's grateful nobody's been hurt, but worries what might happen the next time.

"You know that thing, you can be at the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.

Residents reported hearing gunfire Saturday night, perhaps seven to eight shots. Before that, there were two separate gunfire incidents within a couple of blocks.

Police responded Thursday night to a call of shots fired at a small retail complex, where officers estimate at least fifty shots were fired at five businesses and some vehicles.

Witnesses say the gunfire came from a black sedan driving by.

Monday, residents reported hearing an estimated sixty gunshots outside an apartment complex in the same area.

"It makes me feel afraid," said Nina Mikhailenko, an artist and homeowner who lives on the street where some of the gunfire has occurred. "I used to take walks at night, but now I won't. I just don't feel safe anymore."

Police have increased patrols in the area, and pledge to systematically work the area to put an end to the shootings.

Investigators say they don't yet know whether the incidents are gang-related or if they're being committed by the same suspects. Officers also can't say whether any of the businesses or homes are being targeted. The shootings may simply be random.

That is no comfort to residents who wonder when the gunfire will stop.

"I hope the extra police can make a difference," said Mikhailenko. "This is a nice neighborhood in so many ways. We just want to feel secure again."