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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

1 dead, 7 injured in downtown Seattle mass shooting; suspect sought

Officers attend to one of several shooting victims, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Seattle, after a gunman opened fire in the heavily trafficked downtown area. (David Silver / AP)
By Sara Jean Green and Elise Takahama Seattle Times

One person was killed and seven people, including a child, were wounded in a shooting near Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening, according to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

Police were asking people to stay out of the area after the shooting, which occurred shortly after 5 p.m. No arrests had been made as of 8 p.m., and Best said police believe there were multiple shooters, though they were still working to determine how many. The shooting occurred during an argument outside a McDonald’s.

“There were a lot of people outside, guns came out, and people started running,” Best said.

According to Seattle Fire and Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center, a woman in her 50s was in critical condition and a 9-year-old boy was in serious condition. Four others – a 35-year-old man, a 32-year-old man, a 21-year-old man, and a 34-year-old man – were in satisfactory condition, while a 49-year-old man had been treated and released by Wednesday evening. The victims were suffering from gunshot wounds to the legs, chest, buttocks and abdomen.

The woman who died at the scene was about 40 to 50 years old, according to fire department spokesman David Cuerpo. A body under a sheet was visible on the sidewalk outside the McDonald’s.

Officers responding to the shooting scene found the victims in about a one-block radius, Best said. Detectives from the homicide and gang units were on the scene, interviewing witnesses and obtaining video surveillance footage to develop suspect descriptions.

It was the third shooting downtown in less than two days. Earlier today, police shot and wounded a man in Belltown. On Tuesday, a 55-year-old man was shot to death in a stairwell at Westlake Center, just a block from the site of Wednesday’s shootings, which occurred during the usual heavy daily public-transportation commute.

Tyler Parsons, 25, was working the register inside Victrola Coffee Roasters at Pine and Third on Wednesday evening when the shooting occurred. He said he heard no shots — they play music loud in the store, Parsons said — but customers started dropping to the ground.

He said people were running behind the register, taking cover. Parsons said he hustled five or six customers inside a back storage area along with a coworker.

He waited a couple of minutes before walking back out. Victrola is inside a larger retail and office space; Parsons went into the building lobby, he said, and saw two victims: one outside, lying in front of the building, visibly injured but alive and moving. The second victim was inside the lobby, up against the security desk, with an apparent gunshot wound to the leg. He muttered, “I think I got shot, I think I got shot,” Parsons said.

Police taped off the entire block, including the coffee shop.

“We’re just kind of hanging out here,” said a shaken-sounding Parsons, waiting until he and others still in the building can leave. The shooting was “just kind of terrifying. Terrifying it’s so close.”

“We’re just trying to figure out how to get out of here safe,” Parsons said.

Alex Bennett, a former nurse who lives above the McDonald’s at Third and Pine, was getting coffee at Victrola when she heard a volley of gunfire.

“Everyone in the coffee shop went down on the ground, hiding behind tables,” she said. “The security guard locked the door.”

Out on the street, she described chaos as people getting off buses were met by people running from the scene of the shooting. She also saw people who’d collapsed on the sidewalk, including one man in his 30s who had been shot in the leg outside the coffee shop.

Bennett helped a security guard who was putting pressure on the man’s wound.

“He was freaking out and kept saying, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die,’” she said.

Bennett reassured the man he’d be OK and kept him calm until police and medics arrived. At the man’s request, Bennett texted his wife to tell her what had happened. She said she got a message back, that the wife was in San Diego but was heading to the airport to get a flight back to Seattle.

Within a couple minutes of the gunfire, Bennett said she saw an officer running toward the shooting with an assault-style rifle. Another shooting victim made it into the coffee shop and was helped by people inside, she said.

Douglas Converse was standing right outside Westlake Station when he heard the gunfire. Converse, 60, said he saw two people collapse near Pine and Third.

“I saw a couple of bodies go down,” Converse said. “I saw everybody go running, and I wanted to see if I could be any help.”