The city’s sharp rise in gunfire is in the spotlight today. First, a reader report on a West Seattle incident, from Anthony:
Just after 6:30 this morning, my wife and I were riding our bikes down Fairmount Ave and rounded the first corner just as the passenger in a stopped pickup truck fired three shots from a handgun (small caliber based on the sound) into the hillside at the first pullout on the right hand side. The truck, what looked like a mid-’90s white Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra, took off down the hill towards Harbor Ave. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good look at the vehicle occupants or license plate. We immediately stopped, turned around, and went back to the top of Fairmount and called the police. Several officers responded quickly and I gave them the information I had.
This was just a few hours before Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz and two other city leaders held an online briefing/Q&A session for reporters to talk about the city’s ongoing wave of violence involving people using guns.
He said the incidents were happening at an “unrelenting pace.” Diaz said police are doing what they can, with dozens of gun-related arrests and 700 guns seized so far, but the overall numbers are daunting: Citywide, 380 incidents this year involving gunfire – that’s 100 more than this time last year, 150 more than this time in 2019. Of this year’s incidents, 104 involved injuries or deaths. The city has had 35 homicide victims so far this year – two of those “delayed” (from incidents in previous years), and three-quarters were shooting victims, the chief said. He repeated that the department is understaffed; there’s money to hire officers but hiring is not keeping up with the pace of attrition.
The City Council was represented at the event by Councilmember Alex Pedersen, who said he hopes his colleagues will support money for recruiting and hiring incentives; midyear budget decisions are coming up in two weeks. Also participating was Rex Brown, who leads the city Human Services Department’s Safe and Thriving Communities division; he talked about city investments in community-safety programs, saying they’re addressing “risk factors” at the “societal and community levels.” The chief, too, acknowledged it’s a many-faceted problem, saying that it’s not just an increase in gunfire involving youth violence but also mental-health issues, such as road rage. Regardless of staffing levels, he said, police need community support for the violence to stop: “Talk to your friends and family, (tell them) ‘guns are not the answer’.”