Around 11:30 am a man entered the coffee shop Cafe Racer on Ravenna and started firing. Two people were killed instantly and a third died a few minutes later at Harborview. About a half hour later, a woman returning to her car in a lot at 8th and Seneca was grabbed by a man who wanted to take her car. He pushed her to the ground and shot her in the head.
At 3:30 pm Mayor Mike McGinn was holding a news conference, which was interrupted by the news that another shooting had taken place in West Seattle.
After much confusion, excellent observation and action by a Seattle detective, we learned that this shooting victim was, in fact, the gunman in both earlier incidents and had put a gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
What the hell?
Police say we have had more homicides in the Puget Sound area in the first 5 months of this year than we had for the entire year 2011. Two killed yesterday in Shelton. A person shot at the Folklife festival--second year in a row. A young woman is killed while walking in Pioneer Square with her boyfrend. A young father is shot and killed while driving with his parents and children in the car, a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Is Seattle becoming more violent? The usual arguments for and against gun control will surely surface, but is the problem bigger than that? Is there a role that can be played by counselors, teachers, clergy, police who can identify troubled people before this happens?
Is it the economy? Is it drugs? Is it the easy availability of guns by those who should never have them? What is going on?
UPDATE: From yesterday's Seattle Times, a now ironic piece written by Lynn Thompson. In part it reads:
"Seattle police officials Tuesday said the outbreak of violence through Memorial Day weekend and since the beginning of the year has more to do with guns than with gangs. Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief for Operations Paul McDonagh said that, while gang activity has played a role in the jump in homicides this year — 15 to date compared with 21 in all of 2011 — the common denominator is the use of firearms.
"A person who has a gun is more likely to use a gun," Metz said after the weekly council briefing. The pair addressed the City Council on Tuesday to talk about the recent spate of shootings and the Police Department's stepped-up response.
Police are trying to pinpoint a reason or reasons for the recent violence and are combing through cases as far back as October, when they noticed an uptick in seemingly random incidents.
"We don't know" what has prompted the violence, said Jim Pugel, assistant police chief of investigations. "If we knew, we'd be able to put a stop to it, and that's the frustrating part."
Metz and McDonagh outlined to the council plans to curb violence that dealt with people — not firearms. Those include putting more officers on the street in areas with high crime and a high number of violent incidents. They also called on community members with information about crime to contact police, even anonymously.
Community-outreach officers also are planning a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Garfield Community Center with the East Precinct Advisory Council. The meeting is in response to the shooting of Justin Ferrari, a Madrona father who was killed Thursday afternoon at a busy Central Area intersection while running errands with his children and parents. Police said the shooter was aiming at someone else across the street.
That crime in particular, Metz told the City Council, has created a great deal of concern because of "its randomness and the fact that it could have been just about anybody." No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing, police officials said.
An alleged Seattle gang member, meanwhile, was arrested on suspicion of the Saturday-night shooting near the Space Needle that left one bystander wounded. And one of four drive-by shootings that night was at the former home of a gang member, Metz told City Council members. On April 22, Nicole Westbrook, who had just moved to Seattle to attend culinary school, was fatally shot as she walked home to her Pioneer Square apartment, apparently by someone shooting at another person.
Pugel said special-emphasis patrols, which were deployed to high-crime areas in the East, West and South precincts last weekend, will continue. SWAT officers assigned to anti-crime teams, gang detectives and some traffic units are being added to patrol units to "change up the delivery of officers to problem areas," he said.
Share your thoughts below..please keep to the topic and let's play nice in the sandbox. We have had enough anger today to last awhile.
Update 2: The gunman, identified as Ian L. Stawicki, 40, of Ellensburg, was not killed by his self inflicted gunshot. He is in critical condition at Harborview.