WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Early-morning gunfire; police chief’s plea

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’.”

35 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Early-morning gunfire; police chief's plea"

  • Mel August 31, 2021 (2:16 pm)

    Going to be challenging to attract good candidates for police in this city for the foreseeable future.

    • Quiz August 31, 2021 (2:30 pm)

      Sad but true.

    • 1994 August 31, 2021 (9:07 pm)

      And will certainly cost more money in the long run to attract good candidates. The defund the police mantra may end up needing higher funding!

    • bill September 1, 2021 (12:00 am)

      To the contrary, I think it is a good thing that people who believe that becoming a police officer absolves them of moral responsibility do not apply. If the applicant pool is largely wanna-be thugs, I’m fine with an understaffed department. (I was going to write “believe that becoming a police officer places them above the law,” but in fact Washington state law does largely insulate officers from responsibility under the law. So we have to fall back on the individuals’ sense of good conduct.) The SPD’s reprehensible members have brought dishonor and public distrust on the department. Good riddance to the thugs. Let’s not hire more.

      • Mel September 1, 2021 (10:19 am)

        You couldn’t be more wrong. There are a lot of people who would be qualified and good officers but due to the negativity and hatred toward law enforcement, they’re not interested. Why would they be? They didn’t get paid enough for the stressors of the job pre 2020 let alone now. Good officer or not, the hatred toward police is being directed at all of them. My family member who is an officer (outside of SPD) is regularly flipped off and yelled at when in uniform in Seattle. You might be a great candidate and someone who cares about making a difference, but why wouldn’t you choose a different career path based on the current environment? Add in the never ending overtime due to low numbers, working every holiday, working nights….no thank you.

    • Derek September 1, 2021 (7:03 am)

      I prefer cops who aren’t racist or storming the Capitol.

      • Mel September 1, 2021 (2:00 pm)

        What does that have to do with attracting good cops to join our police force?

  • StopCuttingDownTrees August 31, 2021 (2:29 pm)

    It’ll get worse if Mayor Durkan follows through with firing hundreds more officers for not adhering to her threats of submitting to vaccination. Many media sources say up to 20% of officers have pledged to not take the vaccines. Many other officers are using up their sick time, which is a common signal that they may be preparing to leave the force.

    • Terry August 31, 2021 (4:40 pm)

      Serve, Protect and spread the virus.

    • Lagartija Nick August 31, 2021 (5:34 pm)

      Good! If, as you say, 20% of officers refuse to take a vaccine that will help “protect” the community they “serve” then good riddance.

    • Jort August 31, 2021 (5:42 pm)

      Cops want to quit if they’re required to take action in the interest of public safety? And they wonder why people are angry at them. It’s fine with me. Quit and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Bye! Or just put on your big boy pants and get the shot like a grown-up. Either way, good outcome for all involved. I would rather not have police be disease vectors, infecting our community with a contagion. Their jobs are in protecting the public. Not their political ideology. Time for your shot!

      • MarkSchletty September 1, 2021 (10:42 am)

        Wow. I finally found something on which I agree with Jort.

        • 1994 September 1, 2021 (7:37 pm)

          I second Markschletty! And well written Jort,

      • alkiobserver September 2, 2021 (11:08 am)

        Hmmm Jort. In light of the fact that those fully vaccinated are still “disease vectors” as you say—capable of transmitting COVID just as easily (thus the new/renewed mask mandates/restrictions), your point is moot, especially since it fails to even consider those that have already had COVID. Either way, just your latest excuse for LEO-bashing. 

        • rpo September 2, 2021 (11:49 am)

          The transmissibility from those who are vaccinated is lower. The rate of hospitalization for those who are vaccinated is MUCH MUCH lower. The latter is the important part because the unvaccinated are clogging up our hospitals and ICUs and reducing the quality of care for everyone. Those who refuse to get vaccinated are the cause, and if they are public servants, they need to be held responsible for negatively affecting the general public that they are supposed to protect.

    • KBear August 31, 2021 (6:06 pm)

      Refusing vaccines is not compatible with public safety. People like that do not deserve to serve and SPD will be better off without them. 

      • Mel August 31, 2021 (7:12 pm)

        I am pro vaccine however your comment is short sighted. Easy to say that but when we lose more officers and response times go up again, it will be a problem if you need to call 911. 

      • Clinker August 31, 2021 (8:06 pm)

        Agreed. Police are in a place of public trust and need to demonstrate good judgement and ethics. Vax deniers have the decision making ability of children.

        • KBear August 31, 2021 (8:25 pm)

          Exactly, Clinker. Someone who can’t make the right decision when the facts are laid out certainly can’t be trusted to make good decisions in an emergency. 

          • Eric1 August 31, 2021 (10:23 pm)

            Not sure I follow the logic.  What is the “right” decision?  Right for you, or right for someone else?  Much like the abortion debate, it really doesn’t matter what YOU think, it isn’t your decision to make. I weighed the options and vaccination was right for me.  I can judge someone’s “poor”  decision to not to vaccinate based on my beliefs but I am hardly correct.  Look at who you are judging =>  police were the first group to have the vaccine available to them.  Given their likelihood of exposure, if they haven’t gotten sick/exposed by now, who says they will? If they were already infected and have recovered, is the vaccine really necessary? The CDC says yes, but UW’s predicting that the winter Covid infection rate will be lower because of all the natural immunity being built up in the population now.  So what is “right” on natural immunity? Not as clear cut as forestry policy.  

          • Lauren September 1, 2021 (9:11 am)

            Eric1, it’s nothing at all like the abortion debate. Whether or not I decide to get an abortion impacts a VERY small number of people: myself, potentially my partner. Your decision whether or not to get the vaccine impacts the entire community. If you decide not to get vaccinated, you can spread that disease to countless others. Your “logic” doesn’t hold up.

          • Rhonda September 1, 2021 (1:37 pm)

            Fully vaccinated people have been spreading Delta like wildfire for months. That’s why we have an indoor mask mandate again for EVERYONE regardless of vaccination status.

    • Derek September 1, 2021 (7:05 am)

      Cops shouldn’t be racist or unvaccinated. Good standards to set there. Serve and PROTECT. Not kill with your bad politics.

  • Stacy August 31, 2021 (2:31 pm)

    “The City Council was represented at the event by Councilmember Alex Pedersen.” Heaven forbid that either of West Seattle’s brainchildren, either Council President (and wannabe Mayor) Gonzalez or Public Safety Chair Herbold take a few minutes out from their vacations to comment on the violence that is permeating this city and our neighborhood.   Nary a peep from either.  Please, West Seattle, we deserve so much better. 

  • Vee August 31, 2021 (2:39 pm)

    Thanks to our mayor who is running away couldn’t stand up to city council  to support police and address crime and drugs and how unsafe Seattle has becomeGet rid of city councilG et a mayor with backbone

    • Derek September 1, 2021 (7:07 am)

      The mayor didn’t stand up with police?? They were firing teargas at peaceful protesters and igniting conflict and she allowed it. You’re wrong. The police needs to be completely up rooted and changed in Seattle.

  • Jeepney August 31, 2021 (2:59 pm)

    This is our new reality, we will just have to deal with it unfortunately.

  • Michael Waldo August 31, 2021 (4:15 pm)

    I am sorry. If police won’t get vaccinated, then good by. They interact with people everyday. They need to be vaccinated. I am tired of babying or being polite to anti-vaxes. It is because of them the Delta variant is out of control and why I still have to wear a mask.

  • onion August 31, 2021 (5:33 pm)
    • I support the vaccine requirement but oppose defunding. Both the mayor and majority of the council have lost their credibility. Electing a former policeman and head of the council is the only credible  way to restore the relationship between the city’s leadership and law enforcement –and to rebuild trust between our community and the law community. Lord help us if his opponent wins.
    • WSB August 31, 2021 (9:26 pm)

      I think you’re confusing Bruce Harrell with Tim Burgess. Harrell is not a former police officer; Burgess (who did not run but like Harrell briefly served as mayor between Murray and Durkan) is.

  • Jort’s bike August 31, 2021 (7:42 pm)

    Was anyone in the other end of those bullets?

    • WSB August 31, 2021 (8:18 pm)

      Not to our knowledge. There were no medical/aid calls, whether shooting victims or otherwise.

      • NotOnHolden August 31, 2021 (10:54 pm)

        What on earth were they shooting at?!?!?!?  Meth gremlins?  One of our beloved turkeys?  A coyote that ate a cat that ate a bird?  There is definitely something off about deciding to just go “target” shooting at the crack of dawn.  Did anyone actually go look?  There is no way someone, even someone new to the area, could think “oh this is fine, quite remote, pip pip, let us do some shooting… PULL!!!!!”  Something is just not right there and they should not be allowed to have a firearm if this is the random crap they do.  It’s dangerous and has potential to negatively impact so many and people need to stop with this nonsense.  It is simultaneously saddening and infuriating.  I’m glad everyone is okay as far as we know.

        • Anthony September 1, 2021 (11:14 am)

          After we were sure they were gone (for my safety) and after calling the cops, we went back to see if anyone was injured. It truly seems that they were shooting at the hillside just to shoot, not at anyone or anything in particular. 

  • anonyme September 1, 2021 (7:49 am)

    “Talk to your friends and family, (tell them) ‘guns are not the answer’.”  Oh
    yeah, that’ll help.  While I understand that this is a complicated issue, I also blame the mayor(s) and council who helped create the lawless, anything goes, hands-off-of-criminals atmosphere we now have in Seattle.  It’s not just far-right extremists who realize we need some law and order here. And since we can never control human behavior, we must limit access to their tools of
    destruction.  As for the other issue of vaccination, any and all public and/or healthcare employees should have a vaccination mandate.  The fact that many do not at this stage in the pandemic is inexcusable.  It feels like society is crumbling.

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