Seattle, Washington – Seattle police are investigating a shooting at a homeless encampment known as “The Jungle” that left two people dead and three seriously injured, as the city’s mayor Ed Murray informed in a televised address on Tuesday night. The incident occurred around 7:20 p.m. Officials found five people with gunshot wounds at the scene, according to Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle’s police chief.
KIRO-TV reported the victim’s ages were between 25 and 45 but their names have not been revealed. Police said they have already identified two of the suspected gunmen, who are being sought.
One of the two fatal victims was a blond woman who died at the encampment, while the other was a man who was declared dead at a hospital. The critically injured were taken to the Harborview Medical Center, O’ Toole said. Authorities believe the shooting “was very targeted,” as Seattle’s assistant police chief Robert Merner told reporters. He added that the suspects were likely not homeless and that they were not precisely targeting people at The Jungle because they were in that condition.
That night shortly before the incident, Mayor Murray gave a speech on the “extraordinary crisis” the city was facing regarding homelessness. Later, when he was told about the shooting, he went to the scene and said The Jungle had been totally out of control for nearly twenty years.
Murray said city workers were set to go to the encampment on Wednesday to clean up the garbage and offer social services for the homeless, including mental health care and addiction treatment. In addition, he announced that Seattle, King County and state, would carry out a health and safety assessment of homeless people who are currently living along the I-5 corridor. The Police Department will conduct welfare checks on residents of other encampments near The Jungle to reassure they are not in danger because of the Tuesday shooting and provide security.
Last fall, Murray declared a state of emergency following the release of a report by the King County medical examiner’s office, which stated that 66 homeless people had passed away through September. Forty-seven of them died on Seattle streets.
The Seattle Times reported that city officials had shut down over 527 illegal homeless encampments last year, compared with 351 in 2014. In December 2015, The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness urged the mayor to stop the “sweeps” of homeless encampments unless he could offer alternative shelter.
Source: New York Times