City Hall

Seattle Police Discuss Uptick in Gun Violence After Alki Shooting

The briefing to council members was scheduled the morning after a 23-year-old man was fatally shot at Alki Beach.

By Hayat Norimine May 25, 2017

Alki beach seattle parks july 2015 vqeypu

Alki Beach in July 2015. 

Image: Seattle Parks

A Seattle police lieutenant says the department will be increasing bike patrols and emphasis patrols at Alki Beach, both this weekend and over the summer, after a fatal shooting at the West Seattle park Tuesday night. 

Seattle police officials spoke to council members during a committee meeting Wednesday morning about the city's increased gun violence so far this year, the morning after 23-year-old Jordan Thomas was shot near 62nd and Alki Avenues, according to Seattle Times and TV reports. He died shortly afterward at Harborview Medical Center. A shaken mother of two who lives near the beach spoke during the public hearing Wednesday about her children seeing blood on the street. 

"I want to send my condolences to his next of kin and I want to thank the police officers who responded to that incident last night," said council member Lorena González, who chairs the Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans Committee. 

So far this year, as of May 15, 35 shooting incidents have resulted in injuries or deaths compared to 27 over the same time last year, according to the briefing police shared with council members. Shots fired increased from 132 to 155, and 72 of those shots were in the South Precinct. Though there is an uptick in calls for service over the summer—more activities, more gatherings, more people outside and in the water—violent crime citywide doesn't follow that trend.

SPD lieutenant Marc Garth-Green said the shooting is still under investigation, but that there was some kind of dispute that led to the assailant getting a handgun.

Garth-Green said police suspect gun violence is happening more often through a "ripple effect" or retaliation after a dispute. Gun violence can be tough to predict for that reason. More shots are also being fired—he attributes part of that to more high-capacity magazines being on the streets—which means a greater chance of someone getting hit. 

"The police department is criticized for just wanting to go arrest people. ... When it comes to gun violence, I for one have no problem with the police department being very assertive and taking these people off the street and putting them in jail," council member Tim Burgess told Garth-Green Wednesday. "We have zero tolerance for gun violence in our city, so don’t let that criticism interfere with your mission."

Police say their response times have also decreased a full minute since last year. But sometimes there's very little victim cooperation, Garth-Green said, which poses another challenge and makes it difficult to get any information or make arrests. There's a lot of interest among council to bring back the Community Service Officer program, González said, who would focus on community engagement in assigned areas in the city. Mayor Ed Murray announced the plan to bring back the officers in December.

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