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Seattle Mayor Durkan calls for more officers after string of deadly shootings

caption: Mayor Durkan and Chief Diaz respond to reporters after a weekend of fatal shootings on Monday, July 26, 2021.
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Mayor Durkan and Chief Diaz respond to reporters after a weekend of fatal shootings on Monday, July 26, 2021.
KUOW Photo/ Casey Martin

After multiple fatal shootings around Seattle that left at least five people dead, Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city must support its police officers to keep up with the pace of crime. Durkan also highlighted new legislation she’s proposed to curb gun violence around Seattle.

Speaking Monday after a particularly violent weekend in the city, Durkan said this level of gun violence is unacceptable.

“Mothers lost their children. Families lost their fathers. People lost their friends,” Durkan said at Seattle City Hall, "our communities were shaken in a series of avoidable gun violence incidents."

From Friday night through Monday morning, Seattle police say there were five, unrelated shootings scattered throughout the city.

On early Sunday morning officers responded to multiple shootings in the Belltown neighborhood. Less than an hour later, there was another report of a shooting near Occidental Square. And then another at Cal Anderson Park.

“The north end was using all of their resources just within about 30 minutes,” Seattle interim police Chief Adrian Diaz said alongside Durkan. “Which makes it very difficult to be able to respond to basic 911 calls or other things that are going on in the north end.”

On Monday morning, police say another person was injured by a gunshot at a tent encampment near the Yesler Terrace neighborhood.

Seattle shootings

As of Monday afternoon, the Seattle Police Department said five people had been killed and nine others injured amid the recent series of shootings.

In response to the shootings, Durkan stressed new steps her office is taking to help reduce gun violence around Seattle. One is a $2 million investment into a regional peacekeeping collective focused on keeping guns away from kids.

“We also announced a plan for a new specialized triage response team and the expansion of SPD’s very successful Community Service Officer program,” Durkan said.

To reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets in the short-term, Diaz said Seattle police are working with the FBI on ongoing investigations.

"We just did a recent operation that resulted in 19 search warrants and 50 guns recovered on July 1,” Diaz said.

Both Durkan and Diaz emphasized the need for more police officers in Seattle to adequately respond to emergencies.

"This past weekend serves as a reminder: there are many times and types of 911 calls that require a traditional sworn police officer to respond,” Durkan said.

Over the last 17 months, Durkan said, 250 Seattle police officers have left the department. She expects that number to grow to 300 officers by the end of the year.

Durkan did not name anyone specific, but gave a general criticism of people who have called for cutting the police budget by half, including some members of the Seattle City Council last summer.

“Not unexpected — losing these numbers of officers,” Durkan said. “When city leaders talk about cutting a department by 50%, you will lose employees."

Firearm violence up in King County

Calls to 911 for potential homicides have been trending up in King County over recent years, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. So far in 2021 (Jan. 1 – July 26) there have been 84 potential homicides that authorities have responded to in King County.

Calls for potential homicides across King County in previous years:

  • 2016: 69
  • 2017: 89
  • 2018: 100
  • 2019: 90
  • 2020: 146

According to the King Count Prosecutor's Firearm Violence Report for the first two quarters of 2021 (see below):

"The total number of shots fired incidents in Q1-Q2 2021 (580) was up around 33% and the number of overall shooting victims (197) was up around 61% over the four-year average for Q1-Q2 2017-2020. More specifically, the number of fatal shooting victims (42) was up 48% while the number of nonfatal shooting victims (154) was up 65% over the four-year average.

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King County shots fired 2021 Q2 Report.pdf

King County Shots Fired report for Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 of 2021.

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