Another Seattle homicide

A Seattle police car in the central business district (2011) Credit: Richard Eriksson/Flickr

A 21-year old woman was killed and five other people were wounded at a house party near Kubota Garden in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Seattle police report that officers responded from multiple Seattle precincts, King County Sheriff's Office, and the city of Tukwila to provide enough manpower to secure the scene. The initial blog post by Seattle police indicated it took as long as 15 minutes to get enough manpower to secure the scene so that the Seattle Fire Department could safely begin treating victims. It is not clear if beginning treatment sooner could have stabilized the young woman enough for her to have survived.

The Seattle Police Department’s Neighborhood Policing Plan indicates that normal Patrol Division staffing for the entire city of Seattle is 51 officers on any given shift. Patrol Division, unlike investigative divisions, is tasked with response to 911 calls. For the South Precinct, patrol staffing is nine officers. Seattle Police reported 20 to 30 shots were fired, by one or more suspects, and that the crowd then scattered across the neighborhood.

At night, for the safety of responding officers, fire personnel, and the general public, dispatching a large numbers of officers is standard procedure for a shooting like this. The adjoining jurisdictions of King County and Tukwila were closer to the scene than officers from more distant City of Seattle Precincts, such as North Seattle, prompting Seattle to seek mutual aid from those jurisdictions. A Crosscut article on June 8, reported that the Seattle Fire Department was delayed by up to seven minutes in beginning treatment of a shooting victim on May 16. Like the incident at the house party on Sunday, it probably can’t be known if the time required to get enough officers from across Seattle and adjoining jurisdictions, played a role in the death of the shooting victim.

What is known is that the shooting at the house party near Kubota Gardens on Sunday did delay other police responses. Carol Dean lives near Rainier Beach High School, approximately one mile from the shooting near Kubota Garden. Just before 2 a.m. she was awakened by a crowd of about 10 people, exiting several vehicles and heading into the school grounds with alcohol. While, or shortly before, she was on the phone with 911, the shooting at the house party happened.

Dean is an active block watch member, and has called 911 many times over the years. Being asked by a 911 operator to hold was a first. Dean said, “I have been told in police meetings that they want us to call in things like what I saw before they have the opportunity to escalate to a drunken brawl or shooting. When the dispatcher got back on the phone, I was told no officers were available because of another incident and that they would respond when they could. When I hung up, I heard dozens of police cars, with lights and sirens, tearing down Rainier Avenue S.” Dean remained awake for approximately half an hour after she finished her call to 911, during which time, the police never did respond to what she readily admits was a minor incident.

According to police, in addition to the 21-year old female, who died at Harborview from a single gun shot to the abdomen, there were five other victims: two females, 17 and 18 years old; two 20-year-old men; and a 21-year-old man. This shooting death brings the homicide total to 21, past Seattle’s total for all of last year. It is only July.

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