SEATTLE, Wash. – A shootout in downtown Seattle that left a woman dead and a 9-year-old boy injured was the third violent incident this week in a part of the city long known for rampant drug use and street unrest.
Business groups implored officials to improve public safety. And while crime rates in Seattle are low compared to other big cities, critics say mayhem downtown – from shootings, to drug dealing and the effects of the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis – makes locals and tourists feel unsafe.
The Downtown Seattle Association, a business group, said in a statement the area where Wednesday's shooting happened has been a high-crime spot for years. “We call on public officials to devote the resources necessary to improve safety in downtown,” the group said. “We say enough is enough.”
Three people, including the boy, remained hospitalized Thursday after police say several people opened fire, killing a woman. It was the third downtown Seattle shooting in two days.
“We will not allow this to be the new normal,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Thursday at a news conference. “We know gun violence is preventable and are taking urgent action.”
Some of the immediate actions include putting more officers on streets where the shooting happened as well as a mobile police precinct that has been set up there, she said.
Authorities began receiving calls of multiple gunshot victims at about 5 p.m., said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. The person who died was a woman in her 40s, fire officials said. Seven people were treated for gunshot wounds, said Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
The condition of a 55-year-old woman was upgraded from critical condition to serious and a 32-year-old man and the boy were listed in satisfactory condition. The woman who died and one of the injured women were long-term residents of Plymouth Housing, a well known homeless services and housing provider, the organization confirmed to multiple news outlets Thursday.
“As part of our permanent supportive housing model, our buildings become close-knit communities; these women were like family to many,” a statement from the organization said.
Amazon, which has offices nearby and is the city's largest employer, said two of its workers who were passing by were wounded, but their injuries were not life-threatening.
“We are deeply troubled by last night’s events in Seattle and our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by this tragedy," Amazon said in a statement Thursday.
Video showed several people firing weapons after the dispute outside a McDonald's. Police including homicide and gang units were investigating.
“This is not a random incident, there were multiple people involved,"' said Police Chief Carmen Best. “There was a dispute that happened in front of the McDonald's, people pulled out guns, shots rang out, people ran in various directions.”
Best said Thursday that a 21-year-old man wounded in the shooting is also a suspected shooter who was arrested at the hospital Wednesday night on a charge of unlawful gun possession. She said police were searching for two additional suspects considered armed and dangerous: Marquise Latrelle Tolbert and William Ray Tolliver, both 24. Records show both have lengthy arrest records and Durkan said both have gang connections.
Samantha Cook said she was in a nearby train station when she heard gunfire Wednesday.
“I was on the first set of escalators,” Cook told The Seattle Times. “There were a lot of gunshots that started going off — maybe 10 or 11. It was just rapid fire.”
Tyler Parsons told the Times he was working at a coffee shop when he saw people drop to the ground. Some took cover behind the cash register and Parsons took five or six customers to a storage area.
The shooting was “just kind of terrifying," Parsons said.
Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he was “horrified and dismayed to hear about the shooting.”
There were two other violent incidents in downtown earlier this week. Police found a man with a fatal gunshot wound in a mall stairwell Tuesday. Police shot a person in another area of downtown earlier on Wednesday.
Crime is actually down in much of Seattle. According to statistics from the city, robbery was down 9% in 2019 compared to 2018 and aggravated assaults were down 4%. There were also fewer aggravated assaults and homicides (27 homicides in 2019 compared with 32 the previous year).
Associated Press writer Terry Tang contributed from Phoenix.
This story has been corrected to say Amazon is Seattle's largest employer, not the region's.