In one sense, the shooting Wednesday in downtown Seattle that killed a woman and injured seven other people was shocking. The gunfire erupted suddenly as crowds of evening commuters splashed across one of the city’s busiest intersections. Seattle is one of the safest major cities, Mayor Jenny Durkan said. “Most of us in this city have walked that block at about that time of day. I’ve done it hundreds of times in my life,” the mayor said. “No one in our city or country should step out of a coffee shop or get on a bus with fear of violence.” In another sense, Wednesday’s tragedy was sadly less surprising, the Seattle Times reports. The area has long been beset by low-level crime and intermittent violence, with repeated attempts to address those problems never yielding permanent changes.
The shooting that started after a dispute outside a McDonald’s was the third in a little over 24 hours downtown. The bullets struck indiscriminately, hitting not only a suspect who was later arrested at a hospital but also a 9-year-old boy, two Amazon employees and two formerly homeless women, one of whom died. Durkan said she would try to clean up the area while also tackling gun violence in other neighborhoods and what she described as a regionwide increase in gang activity. Violent crime declined in Seattle last year, though reports of shootings were up slightly. The department has sent extra officers to the area of the shooting, said Police Chief Carmen Best. Seattle leaders, who have struggled to recruit and retain police officers and who are trying to complete court-mandated police reforms, will now come under additional pressure to reassure residents and workers downtown.