According to Seattle Police, as of 9:41 a.m. PST on Jan. 27, 2016, two people have been declared dead and three more were wounded when a shooting broke out at a homeless camp in Seattle commonly referred to as, “The Jungle,” last night. Police reported that the two deceased victims, who have not yet been identified, were a man and a woman.
At this time, there are no suspects in custody, however, the police have said they are looking into two persons of interest for the shooting. Those persons of interest have not been named.
The shooting occurred on Airport Way South and police stated it was called in at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 26. The Seattle Police Officers started searching a greenbelt in the area referred to as, The Jungle, when they reportedly found the five victims. In a statement released by the Seattle Police Department, they announced they were actively searching for any possible suspects and gathering information about the incident.
The scene is still an active crime scene and police have told reporters that the area is still not safe. It has been confirmed the shooting did occur near one of the tents in the homeless camp.
Gary Horcher, a KIRO-TV reporter, tweeted that an eyewitness had heard several gunshots from the homeless camp. The tweet is unclear if Horcher saw the five victims or the or the eyewitness saw them, but the tweet said five victims were seen. At 10:53 p.m. Horcher tweeted that the Seattle Police Department had told reporters to vacate the area as there was an active shooter in the area, so it was not safe for them to be there.
At 11:06 p.m. Maria Guerrero, another KIRO-TV reporter, tweeted there were several Seattle police officers and detectives at the homeless camp after people were reported to have been shot. She had seen some of the victims put into ambulances and sent to Harborview Medical Center, but all injuries were unknown at that time.
The victims were reported to have been between the ages of 25 and 45, according to hospital officials. Two of the victims are in critical condition and had to undergo surgery. A third victim was wounded and reported to be in critical condition, but police said that the victim’s condition was more stable than the others.
The Jungle has been occupied by tents of homeless people for several years. It is known to be an area of high crime. However, this camp is on the property of the Washington State Department of Transportation, by Interstate 5. According to a tweet from the Seattle Department of Transportation, the roads in the area where the shooting occurred have been closed off. The roads included Airport Way South, between South Royal Brougham Way and South Holgate Street.
When the shooting happened, the Seattle mayor was giving a special address on the homelessness in Seattle, as reported by The Seattle Channel. After his speech, Mayor Murray addressed reporters reminding them the area was still an active scene and police could not definitively say if the shooter(s) were still in the area, therefore, it was not deemed safe.
This is still an active crime scene. Police are urging all to stay clear of the area until there is more evidence and possibly an arrest.
Updates: The two people killed in the shooting have been identified by the King County Coroner. The two are identified as Jeannine L. Brooks, 45, and James Q. Tran, 33. Both victims died from multiple gunshot wounds.
The three people who were wounded in the shooting are still recovering in the hospital. One man is still in intensive care, but he is now breathing on his own, after his surgery. The other two are women and they are now in satisfactory condition and out of intensive care.
The Seattle police department is continuing their search for two possible suspects. The police say they know these two people and believe they targeted the victims in The Jungle. According to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole stated that the five victims were not targeted because they were homeless, but the shooting was almost certain to be over low-level drug dealing. O’Toole says the investigators are still keeping an open mind during the investigation. They are continuously reviewing the forensic evidence recovered from the scene, which includes a substantial amount of ballistic evidence.
According to O’Toole, there will not be any changes in law enforcement. She made a statement, “We’re not going to criminalize homelessness, not going to criminalize addiction, not going to criminalize mental health issues.”
The Public Slate will continue to follow this story and post updates as they are made available.
By Jeanette Smith
Heavy.com: Seattle Shooting in ‘The Jungle’: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Image Courtesy of Mark Atwood’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License