SEATTLE - Authorities investigating a rash of shootings along State Route 509 have determined that a single firearm apparently was used in at least three of the shootings, including one shooting that struck a 14-year-old boy in the face and blinded him.
At the same time, the Washington State Patrol has released a sketch of a person of interest in the shootings.
At least 11 shootings have been reported along the stretch of highway between Seattle and Des Moines since June 2018, and now the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab has conclusively linked three of them to a single .40 caliber firearm:
Preliminary indications are that additional shootings may be linked to the same firearm, said Trooper Rick Johnson of the Washington State Patrol.
Authorities said the shootings all began in June 2018 when multiple reports came in from people whose vehicles had been hit by gunfire in the area of SR 509 and South 160th Street, near Sea-Tac Airport.
At least four cars were hit on June 13, prompting the State Patrol to shut down SR 509 for more than five hours. The westernmost runway at Sea-Tac Airport was also closed out of an abundance of caution.
Since then several more shootings have happened.
A task force has been formed to investigate the shootings, comprised of the Washington State Patrol, the King County Sheriff's Office, Des Moines police and the Port of Seattle police, with assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Johnson said that the State Patrol is "confident" that the crime lab's technology will help determine whether additional shootings are linked to the same .40 caliber weapon or whether other firearms were used in any of the shootings.
"We believe the individual(s) responsible for these crimes has/have ties to our community," the State Patrol said in a prepared statement. "This could be family, friends, work, or other scenarios."
Officials also said they believe the person in the sketch, driving a red or maroon SUV, may have been in the vicinity of some of the shootings.
"If you are aware of anyone who resembles this sketch and has/had access to a red or maroon SUV within the past year we are requesting your assistance," the State Patrol said.
Anyone with information is asked to call (425) 401-7880 or email investigators at SR509shootingtip@wsp.wa.gov. Callers can remain anonymous.