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17-year-old student dies after being shot multiple times at Seattle’s Garfield High School

Updated at 4:40 p.m. 6/7/2024.

A 17-year-old Garfield High School student died on Thursday after being shot multiple times in the chest and abdomen during the lunch hour.

The shooting took place in the parking lot in front of the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center on the school campus, in Seattle's historic Central District.

Harborview Medical Center announced the boy's death six hours after the shooting. He has been identified by family and his football team as Amarr Murphy.

According to Deputy Chief Eric Barden, Amarr had tried to break up a fight. Afterward, his assailant pulled a gun on him, shooting him at what appears to be close range. An image of the shooter standing over Amarr, who is on the ground, trying to get away, was circulated to police in an attempt to identify the suspect, who remained at large Thursday evening.

"This is an extraordinary tragedy for the community ... Unfortunately gun violence emerged again today at our high school and we have a victim right now at Harborview," Barden said at a press event following the shooting.

According to a police source, Amarr was shot multiple times in the chest. He was unresponsive when police arrived, according to a source. They immediately rendered first aid, including a "chest seal," until relieved by Seattle Fire Department medics.

According to Deputy Chief Barden, a fight broke out at the school between two individuals and Amarr stepped in to break it up. Then, a "high school-aged" male produced a gun and shot the victim multiple times. According to Barden:

Our victim, it appears, tried to intervene and break up that fight. Subsequent to that, one of the original combatants approached the victim and an additional altercation broke out. The suspect produced a weapon and fired multiple rounds at our victim. The suspect fled the scene and remains large.

The shooting took place over lunch, according an email sent to parents by Principal Tarance Hart.

Police said the suspect is a high-school aged male who was wearing a red hoodie. They do not know his identity and ask that people call the tip line with information.

At 12:45 p.m., Seattle police announced that officers were responding to a shooting in the 400 block of 23rd Avenue, the block where Garfield High School is located in Seattle's Central District. Shortly after that, it was announced that the school was in lockdown.

Following the lockdown, Seattle Public Schools sent an email to parents with a message from Principal Hart:

"Today at lunch, shots were fired in the Garfield parking lot. A student was injured. The student is being treated at Harborview Medical Center. Garfield High School is currently on lockdown. All students inside our building are safe. Seattle police have secured the school and are working with the district's Safety and Security team. We will keep families updated with additional information including if students will be released early. Sincerely, Principal Hart."

Gun violence surrounding Garfield High School

In recent months, students and families at Garfield High School have raised issues with safety around the school. Protests were spurred in March, after another off-campus shooting at a nearby bus station.

A 17-year-old girl was injured during that incident. In October 2023, a series of incidents involving two students, followed by an off-campus shooting, also put the school on lockdown. As did three nearby shootings (that did not involve students) in June 2023.

After organizing protests in March, parents called for the district to bring back school resource officers which were removed from the schools in 2020. At the time, one parent told KUOW that they would like 23rd Avenue, adjacent to the school, shut down each afternoon to increase safety.

RELATED: Put cops back in school and shut down the street, Garfield High parents say after another shooting

Outside of Garfield High School Thursday afternoon, parents were again expressing similar sentiments as they waited for their students to be released from lockdown. Christle Young told KUOW that her son, a freshman, would not return to Garfield again.

“We're transferring. This is his last day at Garfield," Young said.

"I already talked to my wife and we are already calling other schools today," she said. "We moved here from New Orleans to have him in a safer environment and give him a better life. So I'm just going to do what I can to protect him."

Young was waiting outside the school at the time of the shooting. She was there to drop something off for her son. That’s when she heard gunshots and saw “like 40 or 50” students scattering.

"I'm a former police officer so I ran toward the gunshots,” she said.

Young found "a kid on the ground" with gunshot wounds. She said began providing CPR. Seattle police arrived and took over. After things calmed down, she was able to wash up, but her phone was still stained with blood while speaking with KUOW.

Anjali Rao had a similar thought. She too would like more police around the school, though she says that she feels Garfield is safe.

“I don't have an issue with my son coming to this school,” Rao said. “I do worry about the safety outside of the school, when he's doing soccer practice in the morning. I don't let him come on the bus. We always come and pick him up. It's not the school, it's the outside of the school that we worry about. And I wish there was more that was happening outside to keep the kids safe in school, on the fields, waiting for the bus."

Lesina Heffa has two students at Garfield, a son and a daughter. She too was waiting outside the campus Thursday afternoon. She heard about the shooting when the school district sent a text to parents. Heffa immediately contacted her children, who said they were safe while in lockdown.

"(My son) said, 'Yeah we're fine, but pray for my friend, he got shot,’” Heffa said.

On the day of the shooting, the front page of the Seattle Public Schools website featured a graphic for National Gun Violence Prevention Day, encouraging people to wear orange in support of the effort, and promoting a series of gun lockbox giveaway events. The closest event to Garfield, at 23rd and Jackson, was scheduled for Friday.

This is the second on-campus shooting at Garfield High School. The other shooting was in 1995.

Reporting by Katie Campbell, Liz Jones, Kate Walters, Ashley Hiruko, Dyer Oxley, Ann Dornfeld and Isolde Raftery.

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