Update: Former West Seattle community-center staffer in custody after North Seattle shooting

(Photo of suspect Carolyn Piksa, added 3:47 pm – call 911 if seen)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:51 PM: Community centers in West Seattle are currently under lockdown because of a situation in the North End – a woman is being sought after a shooting at a Parks facility in North Seattle. Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad confirms that all community centers in the city are under lockdown except for the ones closest to the shooting scene, which have been closed/evacuated. While waiting to hear back from her, we went over to our nearest center – Southwest Teen Life Center – and it indeed has a sign on the door confirming the lockdown (photo added 2:57 pm).

More info as we get it.

ADDED 3:02 PM: SPD tweets that the North Seattle shooting might be “a case of workplace violence.” The suspect they are looking for after the shooting – which sent a 70-year-old man to the hospital – is described as a white woman, 46 years old, wearing a blue stocking cap and beige or army-green jacket, might be driving a dark-colored SUV.

3:06 PM: Per the scanner, plate for the suspect’s vehicle is B03450D, believed to be a blue 2007 Chevy Colorado pickup or similar vehicle, and the suspect is a Burien woman.

3:25 PM: No additional information but police have circulated a name on the scanner. Cross-referencing that name with the city employee directory, it checks to someone who works for Parks in the North End. Waiting to see if they will distribute her photo.

3:33 PM: Per the scanner, the suspect has worked in the past at Hiawatha and High Point Community Centers. She is identified as Carolyn “Zoom” Piksa. The victim is identified as Bill Keller, executive director of the Associated Recreation Council, which runs programs at many centers. (Photo added at right from our coverage of Keller’s participation in a 2011 news conference announcing community-center changes.) He is reported to be in critical but stable condition.

3:50 PM: Photo of Piksa now added above. Commenters have shared e-mail they received from the school district saying that all Parks facilities are closed now and that children who would normally be taken to a Parks facility for after-school programs will instead be at their “schools of origin” awaiting pickup:

On Friday, March 8, the Seattle Mayor’s office closed all community centers, pools and Seattle parks facilities in response to an incident of violence in the north end.

Students citywide who were expected to be transported to a Seattle parks facility for after-school activities and were not already dropped off will be returned to their schools of origin to await pick up.

Thank you,
Office of Public Affairs
Seattle Public Schools

4:04 PM UPDATE: Tiffani from Hiawatha Community Center says that if you have kids there, please come pick them up ASAP, since the facilities are being closed for the rest of the day/night, and programs canceled, including Madison basketball.

4:16 PM UPDATE: Per scanner, the suspect’s vehicle has been found in Burien. She is not in custody so far. Also, we have added a photo of shooting victim Keller to this story, from the 2011 event at High Point CC announcing community-center budget changes.

4:25 PM UPDATE: New message from Seattle Public Schools:

Due to the City of Seattle’s closure of all community centers citywide, Seattle Public Schools is returning all students who were on buses bound for after-school programs to their schools of origin. In some cases, students were delivered to community centers before the closure announcement was made. In that case, the community centers are calling parents and asking them to pick up their students. Students returned to their school will remain at school with adult supervision until their parents can arrange for pick up.

Again, all activities are CANCELED at city-run centers for the rest of the day/night, not just afterschool events.

4:50 PM: The suspect’s in custody, police say. (Addedhere’s video from KING5.com)

5:27 PM: The mayor, SPD, and Parks plan a briefing at 6 pm, and we’re told it will be streamed – we’ll add a video window here as soon as we find the code. (added – just click the “play” button around 6 pm)

(Substituted late Friday – archived video of briefing)
The victim was last reported to be in critical but stable condition.

6:06 PM: The briefing has begun – hit “play” on the video window to see it live.

6:29 PM: The briefing is over. We’ll substitute archived video above when it’s available. Toplines:
-Victim now in serious but stable condition, an improvement from earlier report
-No word on the suspect’s potential motive
-Police tracked her through her cell phone
-She was arrested peacefully – they called for her to come out of her home in Burien, and she did, unarmed
-They are still looking for the weapon she used
-After shooting Keller, she threatened someone else and brandished a gun
-Mayor and police stressed that this was a “citywide emergency” because Piksa potentially had access to many Parks facilities (it was reported on the scanner and elsewhere that she had keys)
-The shooting happened at 1:52 pm; the arrest at 4:49 pm

49 Replies to "Update: Former West Seattle community-center staffer in custody after North Seattle shooting"

  • bsmomma March 8, 2013 (2:53 pm)

    Any chance you know how they handle after school care if they are on lock down?

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (2:55 pm)

      No, all I did so far was confirm the report of a citywide lockdown. Will add any more info we get as we get it.

  • Cheryl March 8, 2013 (2:58 pm)

    Jeez. Again? This is getting ridiculous. :(

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (3:04 pm)

      This has been going on a while but just in the past 20 minutes or so did we get the word of the precautionary lockdown. There is no report of a sighting here but as seen with too many cases, you just never know.

  • MetPatrick March 8, 2013 (3:06 pm)

    This rampant violence has got to stop, people need to start tapping into their ability to talk things out, Swallow your pride folks. It’s not worth going to jail for.

  • Mickymse March 8, 2013 (3:24 pm)

    Yes, it’s a workplace violence incident. The P-I is reporting thas she went into the Parks Department offices on Densmore and shot someone there in his office. I won’t say who since his name isn’t being reported publicly yet:

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (3:49 pm)

      Thanks MM, we’ve been updating multiple times even before I saw your comment. Suspect and victim’s names now public, photo of suspect added. And she has significant local ties. Also thanks to all for the notice regarding students and community centers. Parks info is also fast-moving too. Will add – TR

  • WSratsinacage March 8, 2013 (3:39 pm)


    Dear families,

    On Friday, March 8, the Seattle Mayor’s office closed all community centers, pools and Seattle parks facilities in response to an incident of violence in the north end.
    Students citywide who were expected to be transported to a Seattle parks facility for after-school activities and were not already dropped off will be returned to their schools of origin to await pick up.

    Thank you,
    Office of Public Affairs

    Seattle Public Schools

  • hipster! March 8, 2013 (3:44 pm)

    Just got a robo call from the school district saying they would not be transporting children to comm centers and that they would be returning children back to their schools of origin.

  • erin March 8, 2013 (3:45 pm)

    FYI – I just received this email from Seattle Public Schools:

    Dear families,

    On Friday, March 8, the Seattle Mayor’s office closed all community centers, pools and Seattle parks facilities in response to an incident of violence in the north end.

    Students citywide who were expected to be transported to a Seattle parks facility for after-school activities and were not already dropped off will be returned to their schools of origin to await pick up.

    Thank you,
    Office of Public Affairs

    Seattle Public Schools

  • justme March 8, 2013 (4:45 pm)

    Wow, with no criminal record it sure makes me wonder what could set someone off enough to attempt to take another persons life suddenly like this.

    I’m going to make sure I’m extra nice to people from now on. We never know who has a gun.

  • onceachef March 8, 2013 (4:58 pm)

    So she’s in custody or not?

  • Bsmomma March 8, 2013 (4:59 pm)

    I got the same robo call. Called the school. They knew nothing about that plan/procedure. They called district security. They knew nothing about it. Thankfully all has ended without further incident. But Jeez, these are our children that we are suposed to trust them with. Not knowing the whereabouts of your child for even one moment is enough to put the BP through the roof!!

  • West Seattle Hipster March 8, 2013 (5:22 pm)

    Thankfully, no lives have been taken in this tragedy, the victim is in “critical but stable” condition. Good thoughts going out towards him and his family.

    Way too many people carry guns these days, unlike in the past. Guns are an equalizer for someone who lives their life in fear.

  • WSB March 8, 2013 (5:27 pm)

    Yes, we added the arrest to the story at 4:50 pm. Police/mayor/Parks will have a news conference at 6 pm and we’re told it’ll be streamed – I’ll embed it here for anyone who wants to watch it, soon as I find the code, and we’ll add toplines – TR

  • top hat March 8, 2013 (5:28 pm)

    I hope they have her in custody,but the helicopter is still hovering over my house. So still keeping everything locked up for now.

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (5:44 pm)

      Top Hat – that is a TV helicopter. Or more than one. They’re on till 7 pm. She is most definitely in custody. Our friends at KING 5 even have video on their website.

  • HateGuns March 8, 2013 (5:41 pm)

    Yes. I was in traffic in the North End when all of the Seattle Emergency Vehicles were racing to the scene. I wondered what was up. Now, I know. Another gun-owner going on a rampage. Guns don’t do harm. Wackos with guns do. Diminish one, or, both, and you will have less carnage. Ideally, both. The gun part would be easier to diminish. If not for the ‘baggers and NRA and militia folks who get paranoid looking in the mirror.

    Pretty hopeless in my mind. “Baggers, set me straight. yuck…never mind.

  • hellosam March 8, 2013 (5:50 pm)

    You have the best coverage.

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (6:35 pm)

      Thanks, Hellosam. Just posted the toplines of note from the briefing.

  • Green peace March 8, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    So sorry to hear of another lock down necessity situation this week. Positive thoughts to all involved.

  • Jill Wilson March 8, 2013 (6:04 pm)

    So sorry to hear this. My thoughts go out to the victim and his family. This gun violence has to end. What is wrong this this country and their need to bear arms. We must strive for a peaceful and loving society. I am very saddened to hear this. WE MUST STOP GUN VIOLENCE!!!!!!
    Peace to all!

  • ghar72 March 8, 2013 (6:56 pm)

    For some reason toplines aren’t coming up on my page. The latest story is this one, timed 2:51, last addition at 3:33. It’s appearing this way on both computers.

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (6:58 pm)

      Uh-oh, I think I filed an older version over the newer one. The headline is wrong. Stand by, I should be able to fix that fast.
      You should see the updated version now. Been having some glitches lately causing things to hang up; upgrading the server again sometime in the next few days.

  • sam-c March 8, 2013 (7:00 pm)

    same here. when i saw the story earlier this afternoon (around 4:30) it had a picture of the suspect. now the latest update showing is the 3:33 one.

  • Alvis March 8, 2013 (8:17 pm)

    I’m reminded of the WSB stories a few years about a judge striking down the city ban against bringing guns into public parks and community centers. There is no telling for sure, but it seems possible the gun in today’s shooting would not have been on park premises if the earlier gun ban had been upheld in the interest of public safety.

  • Tracy White March 8, 2013 (8:35 pm)

    I’m going to make sure I’m extra nice to people from now on. We never know who has a gun.
    Shouldn’t you always just do that anyway? It’s the erosion of matters and grace that’s the cause of this as much as anything.
    @Jil – A peaceful and loving society isn’t going to happen. The animal in all of us is too close to the surface. Take the guns away, they’ll use knives. Take the knives away, they’ll use something else.

  • M. March 8, 2013 (9:28 pm)

    Alvis, not too sure a ban or signs will have any effect on someone determined to cause harm or terror.

  • Noelle March 9, 2013 (12:12 am)

    A gun can sit on a table for 100 years, loaded, and nothing will happen unless a person picks it up and fires. A gun is only a tool that can be used for useful and good or reckless and bad intentions.

    Seemingly random violence is a mental health problem in society. Its not about who has a gun, its about how he/she intends to use it.

  • Anne March 9, 2013 (6:42 am)

    The sad truth is- if someone wants to do harm- they will. Does anyone really believe that a ” gun ban” would really make a difference to someone intent on violence? It’s a nice feel good idea- that’s about it.

  • Cclarue March 9, 2013 (7:41 am)

    It is a crime to shoot someone and attempt to kill them so I’m sure she could care less if the gun gun was banned on that particular piece of property. Like many have said this is a mental health issue. Lets start focusing on that.

  • Andrew March 9, 2013 (8:05 am)

    Zoom Piksa was assistant director at my local community center (Miller) for a couple of years. She was indeed very quiet and reserved but was efficient and hardworking. She tirelessly and efficiently ran our very large Christmas party for the disadvantaged families of a local medical clinic for a couple of years. I cannot even begin to understand what happened to her (TV news suggests a mental breakdown).

    I’ve also known Biller Keller for many years. He’s always calm, efficient and friendly. We all hope he makes a speedy recovery. He is the heart and brains of the Associated Recreational Council, the non-profit that runs many of our City community center programs. I fear there will be significant issues there in his absence.

    It is altogether strange to read in the news that one calm rational human being whom you know has shot and severely injured another calm rational caring human being whom you know.

    • WSB March 9, 2013 (8:16 am)

      Thank you, Andrew. While looking at the usual types of online records we browse when people are arrested for something newsworthy, I noticed that while the suspect had no record in Superior Court, she did have several traffic tickets in the past five months, per the Municipal Court records, after years of nothing on record. Nothing big, but something suggesting a personal behavior change – speeding, inattentive driving, no seat belts.

  • JoAnne March 9, 2013 (8:36 am)

    It is extremely naive and even absurd to suggest that a homicidal lunatic would be deterred from her murderous rampage by a gun ban.

  • Eunice March 9, 2013 (9:29 am)

    After the mug shot the other day, the face of violence/crazy can look like anyone.

  • kayo March 9, 2013 (10:08 am)

    Thank you for your insight, Andrew. This is a tragedy all the way around and another sad example (in less than a year!) in our own community of gun violence and likely mental illness leading to a tragic outcome. I hope Mr. Keller is able to make a full recovery. Thoughts to his family, friends and colleagues.

  • melvin March 9, 2013 (10:16 am)

    See society need to understand that crimes can happen in your own backyard and office.We as people need to understand when a crime is committed it’s not always gang members,and drug dealers.This lady work around your kids,grandmother,and grandfather for years.She probably sit at your home drinking coffee with you.Now lets see if they thrown the book at her.Because the gun law has change.Now people don’t forget the Ballard incident in the 90’s.What wrong with her she forgot her morals.We need to know when to walk away that’s all it takes.

  • Alvis March 9, 2013 (10:41 am)

    JoAnne –

    Tell me, do you honestly believe the theory that gun crimes are mostly done by a “homicidal lunatic” on a “murderous rampage” instead of someone who gets angry or upset and has a gun close at hand? I don’t ditto that.

  • melvin March 9, 2013 (10:43 am)

    Yes i do if we banned guns and let only the people have one that fits the stander to have one i feel it’s perfect.You don’t hear hunter’s haven stuff like this and their out shooting they guns all the time and tell me when you heard of a hunter killing or shooting Innocent people i feel the only people that said have a gun is the police, corner store owners,etc.This stuff will go away.We should have war on guns just like they have war on drugs. Now look she work at a community center.That’s why we need a war on guns she work at a community center where your kids play we talking about kids from the ages 6 to 16 yrs.old and seniors citizen don’t forget the school in new york what happen. what would make this world safe is this gun war and us people should push for it so we can be safe our children and our pears

  • Dave March 9, 2013 (11:34 am)

    Yes violence happens but with a gun involved it frequently becomes murder. I’d rather take my chances against a fist or a knife. Universal background checks now!

  • Danielle March 9, 2013 (11:36 am)

    I’ve known Zoom for quite a while although I haven’t seen her in a few years since she left the community center that my son use to hang out at. I would just like people to know that the kids she worked with CHERISHED her. She did anything for them. This incident is very confusing. Prayers definitely go out to Mr. Kellers family. This is a double loss to our community. Zoom has positively affected hundreds of kids. No explaination for this tragedy. Too sad.

  • SPS Parent Also March 9, 2013 (4:40 pm)

    We also had only positive interactions with Zoom and my son was quite sad to hear this news and see her face as the shooter. It will be important to those of us who knew her to find out what happened, because at the moment we simply can’t believe it was her!

  • evergreen March 9, 2013 (5:31 pm)

    It is puzzling and horrifying that a mental breakdown like this can occur to a person in their mid-to-late 40’s. How sad for everyone involved, including the perpetrator.

  • Tracy White March 9, 2013 (9:39 pm)

    Universal background checks now!
    I’m not opposed to them, but how would that have helped in this case?

  • Ajax March 9, 2013 (10:48 pm)

    It will be interesting to find out if this incident was a result of a particular beef that the shooter had with the victim, or if it’s a result of a mental problem. If I was her attorney, I’d be looking into late onset schizophrenia.

  • T Rex March 11, 2013 (10:14 am)

    If she picked out specific people and we do not know that for sure, I would guess some sort of love triange…

    She did lose her sister and brother in law to violence awhile back. Very sad but no excuse.

    But it is not the gun’s fault people. It’s the people themsevles. If in fact she had a beef with this guy, there are other ways to harm him.

  • K March 15, 2013 (1:36 pm)

    I am so sorry that this happened. There is no excuse for this woman’s behavior. But I am glad that it brings to light the failure of government agencies to protect those that have been injured. I don’t remember the commenter’s name…. but it is correct, and I know from personal experience, that it can be devastating to have your house ransacked and destroyed. Eff off all of you who get mad when I blame SPD for not protecting us. It is their job. This woman’s behavior is not okay but… it brings to mind how one can have issues after being a “victim” and the lack of police follow through/ support. All of you angry types get in line… I don’t care. I believe that is SPD cannot catch the criminals the least they can do is support the victims. I don’t think that this is a current weakness of SPD. Again no disrespect and obviously her actions are in no way justified or supported by anyone. I am just saying that a valid point has been made. How would you feel if this happened to your dtr/friend/ aunt/ mother and the police did nothing at all? We don’t know the specifics of the case… but maybe it was a situation where all knew who did it but the person “could not be charged?”. Disgusting.

    • WSB March 16, 2013 (5:20 am)

      Datapoint for accuracy’s sake: If your reference to SPD involves the reported burglary at the suspect’s house – she lives in Burien and the case would have been handled by Burien Police (who are part of the King County Sheriff’s Office), not the Seattle Police Department. The shooting case from a week ago, of course, is an SPD case because it happened within city limits – TR

Sorry, comment time is over.