SEATTLE — A 16-year-old boy was killed and a 14-year-old boy was wounded early Monday morning when they were shot in the protest area known as CHOP, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Harborview Medical Center spokesperson Susan Gregg said two people were brought in with gunshot wounds, with one arriving in a private vehicle around 3:15 a.m. and the other brought in by Seattle Fire Department medics about 15 minutes later.
As of 5:40 a.m., one patient had died and the other was in critical condition, according to Gregg.
At a news gathering at Capitol Hill on Monday morning, Police Chief Carmen Best said “enough is enough.”
“Two African American men are dead, at a place where they claim to be working for Black Lives Matter. But they’re gone, they’re dead now,” Best said, referring to Monday’s homicide as well as the June 20 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson. (Seattle police initially said the person who was killed was an adult, but later corrected that and said he was 16 years old).
“We need to be able to get back into the area,” Best said about the protest zone and surrounding blocks, where there have been two fatal shootings and multiple injuries over the past week and a half. “This is dangerous and unacceptable.”
Police said the two teens were “presumably” the occupants of a white Jeep Cherokee SUV into which “several unidentified people” had fired shots.
“Detectives searched the Jeep for evidence, but it was clear the crime scene had been disturbed,” police said on their blotter.
Protesters in the area Monday morning defended the occupation, saying it wasn’t the cause of the violence.
“The bloodshed you’re talking about has nothing to do with the movement,” said Antwan Bolar, 43, who was staying in a tent in the protest zone. “That’s people who would have been doing it in North Seattle or South Seattle anyways — it’s just concentrated here.”
Bolar said he heard multiple shots, and “would have thought it was fireworks if it wasn’t the back-to-back pop-pop-pop.”
David Lewis, who has been one of the organizers of the protests, thanked the Seattle Department of Transportation for leaving barriers up at the CHOP, saying that they had saved lives.
“I feel safer here than anywhere else,” Lewis said.
Best argued against Lewis’ and other protesters’ assertions that the SDOT barriers protected people and prevented more from being hurt.
“I absolutely do not agree with that,” Best said. “There are multiple people being injured and hurt and we need to do something about it.”
She said police would like people to move out of the area.
“As an African American woman with uncles and brothers and stuff I wouldn’t want them to be in this area,” she said. “We’ve had two … killed. We have a child that’s injured from gun violence.”
Tensions were evidently still high Monday morning: At one point during Best’s news conference, demonstrators down the street were arguing with a man who protesters said was working as private security for a TV news station. The demonstrators said the dispute started when an employee of the station pushed one of the protesters.
CHOP stands for Capitol Hill Organized Protest. Demonstrators have occupied several blocks around the Police Department’s East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park for about three weeks, since the police left the precinct following standoffs and clashes with protesters calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality.
Some Seattle City Council members rejected the idea Monday that the latest shootings at the CHOP were caused by the CHOP.
Councilor Kshama Sawant said during a council briefing the shooting “highlights the urgency to address the endemic violence in our society under capitalism.”
She said “violence was happening on Capitol Hill and in other parts of the city long before the CHOP occupation was created by the movement and we should completely reject the false claims — claims that have no basis in statistical analysis — that the CHOP occupation and the movement was the reason for any of the violence.”
Council President M. Lorena González agreed the shootings should not be attributed to the CHOP and, instead, blamed a nationwide gun violence crisis.
“There is a lot of reporting and information on social media that I think misses the point around what we are seeing manifest itself again (on Capitol Hill) and throughout the city,” she said. “Gun violence is a public health epidemic across the country. Seattle is not an exception to the plague of gun violence within our communities and this is not being caused by a specific zone within our city.”
Two people have died and four were injured in four separate shootings in and around the occupation area over the past week and a half, not including the June 7 shooting of Dan Gregory by a man who drove into protesters before CHOP was formed.
The protest zone has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who tweeted Monday morning that the protesters “have ZERO respect for Government.”