Justice System Didn’t Prevent Seattle Homeless Camp Shooting: Columnist

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Three Seattle teenagers allegedly shoot five people, killing two of them, and police suspect they did it to collect on a drug debt owed to their mother. It’s clear multiple systemic and individual failures had to contribute to what happened last week, writes Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large. No one could have predicted the actions these three are accused of, but a lot of people could have seen trouble ahead, Large says. Stories about the case are full of red flags that don’t require hindsight to see.

The brothers being held are 13, 16 and 17. Police believe they walked into a homeless encampment known as The Jungle and shot five people on Jan. 26. The oldest brother has been convicted in the past of robbery and theft for crimes committed mostly when he was 12. Two years ago, the now-16-year-old was charged with robbery (taking a backpack from a fellow middle-school student), and last year he and some friends reportedly hijacked a taxi and led police on a chase. An officer reported the teen said the chase was “fun and exciting.” The 13-year-old has been arrested before, too, and police said he laughed while talking about the shootings with an informant. They came into contact with the criminal-justice system, but that contact didn’t steer them to a better path, says Large.

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