May 17, 2012 in Region

Hostile crowd impedes Seattle police at shooting

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE — A hostile crowd challenged officers and delayed help for a shooting victim as he lay dying in the parking lot of a south Seattle fast food restaurant, police said.

Some men in a crowd of 25 to 50 people on Wednesday were “posturing, ripping off their shirts and challenging officers to fight,” said spokesman Mark Jamieson. Additional officers were called in to quell the crowd.

But Jamieson said fire department medics couldn’t reach the wounded 31-year-old man for five to seven minutes. He eventually was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with multiple gunshot wounds, and later died, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

People often congregate in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box restaurant on Rainier Avenue South, which is a drive-through without indoor seating, Jamieson said.

A witness to the shooting flagged down a passing police car, he said. The officer saw the victim with numerous people standing over him, and no one appeared to be helping. When the officer told them to stand back, the crowd turned on the officer, delaying the emergency response, Jamieson said.

When fire department medics finally reached the man they knew he was very badly wounded, spokesman Kyle Moore said.

“We realized we had to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible,” Moore said. “Every minute made a difference in that case.”

Medics may typically take 10 to 15 minutes to stabilize a patient before transporting, but they couldn’t wait this time. “We transported him as quickly as we could,” Moore said.

It is typical in assault cases for medics to wait for police to secure a scene for their own protection, Moore said.

The shooting was the 14th homicide of the year in Seattle, Jamieson said. Another shooting in the same parking lot last Saturday wounded a man in his legs. It remains unsolved, and it’s unknown if the two are connected.

Although police haven’t received much cooperation, detectives are hoping someone helps identify a suspect and a motive.

“Presumably some of the people saw what happened,” Jamieson said. “We need those people to come forward and tell us what happened.”

Jamieson didn’t know if anyone who interfered could face possible charges because of the man’s death.

“Our concern at the time was to make it safe — to make the scene safe for fire personnel to get in there and render aid,” Jamieson said. “And right now we’re concerning ourselves with trying to solve this homicide.”

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